If you are in the field of self-help or psychology or spirituality, you have probably heard people using the term enmeshment and/or enmeshment trauma. Today, I’m going to explain to you what enmeshment is and also the common effects that it has on a person’s life.
I want you to imagine a child who is sitting at a high chair. This child is not hungry and pushes the spoon away from his mouth. His mother refuses to acknowledge that “I’m not hungry” is the truth for this child and so she gets angry and shoves the spoon in the child’s mouth anyway.
Now I want you to imagine that a father has always wanted significance and status. He imagines that he will get that significance by making sure that his daughter goes to an ivy league school and becomes a doctor. He puts pressure on his daughter all of her life relative to academic achievement and she finally becomes a doctor to please him, despite not even knowing whether she ever in fact wanted to be a doctor.
Now I want you to imagine that a woman’s husband is absent emotionally and physically. She decides subconsciously to make her son her surrogate husband. She leans on him emotionally and tells all of her secrets to him and calls him her ‘best friend’. Suddenly, he feels torn because he finds himself in a situation where he is filling a role that is both threatening and all wrong for him. Only he feels he has no way out of it. But he also loves the specialness and importance that being in that role guarantees him.
There are many more examples that I could give you. But what any scenario I could give you, including these last three, have in common is that there is no real recognition of “self” in the family or relationship. Autonomy (having a sense of self vs. other) is an important part of physical existence for a person within a social group. What people need is to be able to have themselves and have other people too at the same time.
Most people think of a boundary as being a kind of fence between themselves and others. This is not a good way of thinking about boundaries. It is better to think of boundaries as that which defines you relative to everything else. A boundary is the imaginary line that uniquely defines your personal happiness, your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth from the rest of the universe. If you want to understand boundaries on a deeper level, you can watch my video titled: Personal Boundaries Vs. Oneness (How To Develop Healthy Boundaries). In an enmeshed relationship, personal boundaries are permeable, undifferentiated and unclear.
An enmeshed family or enmeshed relationship does not recognize or accept boundaries. Therefore, enmeshment trauma happens when in a relationship, the person does not recognize or accept or acknowledge the reality of your personal feelings, your personal thoughts, your personal integrity, your personal desires, your personal needs and therefore most importantly, your personal truth. In fact, differentiating yourself puts you at risk of consequences such as punishment or abandonment. The result is that you either choose those consequences and allow yourself to be controlled. Or, in order to maintain harmony in the relationship and closeness, you have to ‘give yourself up’ and mirror the other person so that your thoughts and feelings and needs and desires and truth and choices are either the same as theirs or what they want them to be. The payoff of doing this is that in enmeshed relationships, there is usually a more intense feeling of belonging. But that intensified belonging comes at a serious price.
Most parents alive today have children because of some need they have that they think the child will meet. The thing is, the child that is born to a parent is their own person with their own preferences and destiny and wants and needs and feelings. So children rarely ever conform to the real reason that the parent had the child in the first place. The child does not meet the parent’s needs. And this is a recipe for disaster. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: The Defective Doll.
If a person is in an enmeshed adult relationship, it is because they learned that style of relationship from their childhood. So, childhood is where you need to focus so as to understand enmeshment trauma. Enmeshment trauma is almost always present in dysfunctional families and the unfortunate reality is that most parenting today is dysfunctional. The reason is that most parents today still see their child as something that ‘belongs’ to them. They see their child rather like a ball of clay to mold into what they would like the child to become, which is really often about their own best interests rather than the child’s. Of course, no parent who is creating enmeshment trauma for their child will admit to this. Instead, they will think and say that everything they are doing, they are doing for their child’s best interests. And this becomes gaslighting for a child. If your parents are doing things that don’t feel good to you, but are telling you that everything that you can feel they are actually doing for themselves, they are doing for you, you start to doubt your own sanity and also learn that love means pain and love means sacrificing your needs and wants and truths for another person.
At a certain point in childhood, it is critical for a child to be able to develop a healthy sense of ‘self’. This is where the child starts to sort through the world and define their unique feelings and thoughts and preferences and aversions and needs and desires and personal truth. This is what a toddler is doing when he or she says “no” or begins to want to choose the outfit he or she wants to wear. If a parent does not recognize and mirror and work with (instead of against) that process of differentiation, the child has to try to establish a sense of himself or herself despite the parent. The problem is that humans are a relationally dependent species and so closeness withing the social group is the most important need. This means, at a biological level, we know that what we risk for upsetting our parents is our actual survival. This means that if a parent does not see or sees but turns against a child’s ‘self’, most children will abandon the self in favor of closeness with the parent. But this child never goes on to develop a core and a sense of self. This child becomes an adult who loses himself or herself in relationships. As a result, this person experiences a deep need for relationships, but at the same time, he or she pushes people away because having no strong sense of self and therefore autonomy, he or she feels rather like he or she is disappearing or being consumed by the other person that he or she is in a relationship with. This is a very emotionally claustrophobic experience.
An adult who has experienced enmeshment trauma either winds up in relationships with people who have very strong personalities and subsequently gives up everything about themselves willingly (whether or not this is actually what the other person wants) which creates huge issues in the relationship down the road. Or they get into relationships with people who exhibit a narcissistic style of relating to others and so it is an actual expectation that they do the same thing they did in childhood all over again. And giving themselves up becomes an expectation in that relationship. People with enmeshment trauma have learned a codependent style of relationship. They are at war with themselves because all at once, they want to be the same as the other person so as to establish closeness with them, but also to push them away and define themselves as different because they crave a sense of self and independence. They are constantly trapped between the thoughts and feelings of the other and their own thoughts and feelings. The needs and wishes of the other and their own needs and wishes. The personal truth of the other and their own personal truth. They see intimacy as both needed and also a serious threat. Therefore, people who are in a relationship with them tend to suffer from a constant push and pull.
Enmeshment trauma is in fact developmental trauma. A person who has experienced enmeshment trauma never got to develop normally relative to healthy autonomy. And so, it is a process to learn how to have a healthy relationship and to create this development of selfhood within relationships. A person with enmeshment trauma usually can either only feel a sense of self when they are in a relationship where they are specifically in opposition to the other person, or when they are totally on their own with no one near them. As you can see, this leads to a painful life either way.
In order to heal from enmeshment trauma, you must do what you were never able to do in childhood. You must begin to develop a healthy sense of self (boundaries) and then learn how to have that self within the context of relationship, without resorting to either codependent or narcissistic strategies. Obviously, this process goes much better when your entire family is involved in altering the way that each member relates to the other so that each can have a sense of self and maintain closeness with each other too. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Family (The Truth About Family). But when this is not possible, this can be done within a friendship or within a partnership. And again, it is best if this process is something that the other person you are in a relationship with is involved in too. This makes the process of working to define yourself (ie. figuring out what you feel and think and like and dislike and need and want) and then the process of making changes and determining the course of action that best suits your needs, and communicating effectively with the other person easier.
Don’t forget that healing from enmeshment does not mean becoming narcissistic, that is simply a common albeit an unhealthy pendulum swing. You are looking to establish your own feelings, thoughts, needs, wants and personal truths while recognizing that other people also have thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and personal truths. And your decisions affect them, just like theirs affect you.
The reality is that if you suffered from enmeshment trauma and you haven’t healed, you are not living an authentic life. This means many of the choices you have made are not actually the right ones for you and the relationships you have chosen may not actually be compatible to you. This is both scary for you and other people in your life. It means that becoming authentic may imply many, many changes to your life. Changes that will affect you and everyone around you. But life satisfaction is not possible unless you are authentic and make choices in your life accordingly. To learn how to live an authentic life, you can watch my video titled: How To Be Authentic. Living an authentic life is dependent upon living in alignment with your personal thoughts, feelings, preferences, wants, needs and truths. The good news is, the life you’ve always been looking for and missing out on is on the other side of doing so.
An orphan is commonly understood as a child who has lost both parents to death, whose parents are unknown or whose parents have permanently abandoned them. Orphanhood is really a state in which one does not have parents or family and therefore who lacks those needs that usually come from the family. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the experience of orphanhood exists as on a scale of severity. And on that scale, it is actually possible to feel like an orphan and be alienated and emotionally disowned within a family even though you technically have parents and have a family. Abandonment can exist on many levels, not just the physical. In other words, it is possible to be an orphan IN a family. Many children who are identified with orphans in popular media such as Cinderella or Annie or Oliver Twist are in fact experiencing this.
The scapegoat or black sheep in the family system always experiences some degree of orphanhood. The scapegoat becomes the carrier of the disowned aspects of the other family members. They reject the scapegoat just as they reject those disowned aspects of themselves. Therefore, the scapegoat is in fact disowned and alienated but still remains within the family system. To learn about scapegoats, you can watch my video titled: How to Stop Being a Scapegoat and Stop Being Scapegoated.
When a person is disowned or orphaned but is still living with their family physically, the family becomes in and of itself a kind of active gaslight. To gaslight someone is to sow seeds of doubt in their mind that makes them question their own sense of personal truth and reality (things like memory, judgement, perception, feelings etc). It is to try to convince someone that what they see, they didn’t see, what they hear they didn’t hear and what they feel they have no reason to feel. As it applies to orphanhood within a family, the gaslight is that when a child in a family system is in this type of dynamic, the child is emotionally disowned and alienated. The child feels emptiness, aloneness, neglect, rejection, lack of containment, lack of protection and no support. But on the surface, they have a roof over their heads. They have food. Their parents may say the words “I love you”. There may be other people in the room with them etc. So, like all good gaslighting, the child begins to tell the story that they are crazy and that something must be wrong with them. So, there is a huge discrepancy between how the situation LOOKS on the surface and the reality of the situation, especially on an emotional level. If you would like to understand more about gaslighting in depth, watch my video titled: Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How to Heal From it).
When a child suffers from orphanhood within a family, another element that acts as a gaslight and that will make the child feel like something is really, really wrong with him or her is that they have been traumatized. But when they are looking for the cause of the trauma, they will not be able to see anything. The reason is that this type of trauma falls into the category of trauma relative to what wasn’t there instead of what was there. For example, molestation is a trauma about what happened. Belonging that was never granted to you by your family is an example of what didn’t happen. This type of trauma is often called emotional neglect. Emotional neglect is always an element of orphanhood within a family. For this reason, if you want to understand this dynamic in-depth, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Today’s Great Epidemic (And How to Cure It).
If in our past, we experienced trauma as a result of one of our needs not being met, the aspect of ourselves that could not get that need met, is still stuck in time unresolved. We experience that need being unmet in present time as well. So often, the thing we are lacking or missing in our current life, is that need that was not met at the time in our past that the trauma occurred. For example, say you were wounded as a child because you felt no sense of belonging with your family, that lack of belonging becomes a traumatic imprint. You feel the lack of belonging and that is really what the emptiness in your adult life is about.
The good news is that if you have suffered from this dynamic within your family, you are not doomed to never fitting in and starving for emotional needs for the rest of your life. If you have suffered from this dynamic, you need to consciously resolve the past experiences/ trauma associated with orphanhood within a family. I have created a process to help you with exactly this, it is called The Completion Process. You can learn all about this process by reading my book that is quite literally titled: The Completion Process. You can alternatively go to www.completionprocess.com and find one of my certified practitioners to lead you through the process instead.
The other thing you need to do is to accept the reality that your family did alienate you and emotionally disown you and therefore, whether you decide to keep them in your life or not, you need to find actual family. You need to meet those needs that family is intended to meet. Family is a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that should cause you to light up with hope because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only currently recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in reality family has more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or not. This means, you need to find and choose your family. And this can be done now that you are an adult, who is not restricted to the household you were born into anymore. You have access to so many more resources. What you are looking for is the people and places where those needs associated with being ‘positively owned’ and belonging with a family can be met. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch two of my videos, the first is: Family (The Truth About Family) and the second is: Own People (How to Take Positive Ownership of Your Relationships).
When you are born into the current structure of society, it feels like your only way to belong in greater society is to belong in a family. Because of this, children who were orphaned within a family feel not only alienated within their family, but alienated from humanity at large. You may feel like you don’t belong on earth. The thing is, when you are disowned by something, you tend to disown that thing in return. It’s often too hard to be rejected by something and yet keep approving of it and pulling it close. This means, when we suffer from orphan within a family complex, we jump in on a self-fulfilling cycle. When our family alienates and disowns us, we tend to alienate and disown them. And we tend to also alienate and disown society. And we tend to alienate and disown humanity. And we tend to alienate and disown the world at large. Obviously, this means that we hold an energy and say things and do things that alienate and disown others. They obviously experience this as a rejection. And so, they reject, alienate and disown us. And this intensifies our rejection and alienation and dis-ownership even further. And so, the cycle continues on and on until we are convinced that we belong with nothing and no one on earth. And the sad part is that we don’t even see that it is us pushing others away. If we want to undo this dynamic, we have to change our perspective drastically. On top of seeking out our chosen family, we must also start being the one to do what was never done to us. This means you must take others as a part of you. You must begin to positively own people. Think about what your family would have or should have done if they really took you as a part of them and thought you belonged with them; and if they really wanted you rather than a different kind of child. What would they have felt like and said and done? Make a list and start doing those things to other people. Not only will this change your entire point of attraction, so you will be a match to the experience of family. You can also rest at night knowing that instead of perpetuating what was done to you, you are breaking the cycle and being the change that you wish to see in the world.
To end this article, I am going to share a different perspective as well. If you look at yourself through the lens of an extraterrestrial, no matter whether you were actually physically orphaned or whether you are an orphan in a family, if you step outside of the social construct called relatives, you are still related to people. You are still a part of humanity, regardless of whether you are a part of a group of related people. And beyond that even, you are a part of earth. You cannot un-belong to humanity any more than a deer can un-belong to the species called deer and any more than it can un-belong to earth as it is one of earth’s creatures. The more you awaken and the day you will consider yourself happy, is the day when you realize that humanity is your family. The earth is your family, the universe itself is your family and you cannot un-belong to it. In other words, if you don’t belong to a family, belong to humanity. Belong to the world. Belong to the universe and as such, see all things in existence as family. Choose them as family. See them as a part of you and see yourself as a part of them. Doing so will inevitably reveal your place and purpose in the grand scheme of things. And when you find that, no matter how much people may resist and reject you and disown you, you will see that they can’t actually erase your belonging. They are simply and quite painfully fighting against what they have disowned within themselves.
This is my hope for you and the gift lying dormant within the experience of being orphaned. To break free from the limitations of separation that occur when you identify with only one group and to instead be able to take your place of belonging within humanity and within the world. And as such, to be able to fly across the world and to shake hands with any person, deeply feeling and knowing that they are your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your daughter, your son, your kin. You have simply been physically apart until this re-joining. And this being the case, you belong with them all and they all belong with you.
When we use the word stress, usually we are implying that stress is a purely negative thing. But not all stress is the same. To generalize, there are two different types of stress. Distress and Eustress. Distress is stress that is unwanted. It causes anxiety, painful tension or pressure, strain and suffering. It is negative and detrimental to you. Eustress on the other hand is stress that is perceived as positive or beneficial by the person experiencing it. It is stress that is experienced as wanted, fulfilling, meaningful, exciting, and a pleasurable tension or pressure. Eustress most commonly occurs when we are facing a new and wanted challenge. Eustress tends to occur when we feel we are adequate for the task and therefore confident and positively stimulated by the challenge. Whereas distress tends to occur when we feel overwhelmed because we feel that we are not adequate for the task, lack the necessary resources to meet the demand and are therefore not confident. Eustress is necessary for personal growth. Distress is an oppositional force to health and wellbeing.
Being so unique, all people tend to have a different experience with what causes them distress vs. eustress. This is especially true when it comes to your purpose. The experience that someone has when they are ‘made for’ a certain kind of stress makes that stress trend towards the eustress vs. distress category. So you can understand what I mean, I’ll give you some examples:
One person might find the experience of having a person’s life in their hands and having to focus with so much intensity and be so precise and perfect with every movement around them, because one tiny slip up could kill that person, tormenting. Even the idea of being in this scenario could push them into distress immediately. Another person could feel stimulated and fulfilled and fueled by this experience. A surgeon is this person for example.
One person might find the pressure of planning and organizing overwhelming and uptight and restricting and painful, like it sucks all of the energy out of life. Another person could find it a rewarding challenge, a way of gaining a sense of control and influence over their experience, a way of creating purity as opposed to chaos, a way of sensing accomplishment, as well as grounding and satiating.
One person might find the idea of taking a test so distressing that they can’t sleep and are vomiting before they do it. Another person could love the feeling of being tested and experience the tension of having to get things correct and compete for a high score to be fun and make them feel more alive and focused.
One person might find the idea of being on stage in front of people terrifying and begin to hyperventilate. Another might enjoy the pressure to perform and entertain and revel in the confidence they feel when they are able to capture everyone’s attention and make them laugh or cry.
One person might hate travel and find it unpredictable and threatening. Another might love the excitement of the adventure and the challenge of having to figure things out in a whole new place.
Eustress is not always comfortable. It does not always feel good. But it does not cause distress. Instead, it is stress that feels productive. It is a form of pressure that is wanted and therefore chosen. An even more advanced form of this is pain that is chosen. To learn about that, you can watch my video titled: Want to Succeed? What Pain Will You Say Yes To?
When it comes to developing self-awareness and identifying your purpose and correct path of growth, it is important to know what naturally causes you to feel eustress. It is also important to know that certain factors can determine whether we perceive something as eustress or distress. For example, if you grew up in a family where there were huge consequences for speaking your mind, that association you have with voicing your opinion may cause you to feel distress during a debate instead of the eustress of the mental chess game that you might otherwise feel.
Also, certain factors can turn something we would normally experience as eustress into distress. For example, a person may naturally feel eustress pushing their body towards some athletic achievement. But if they get sick, suddenly pushing their body might cause them distress.
Perhaps the biggest determiner of whether someone experiences distress vs. eustress is whether they actually want to do the thing that they are doing or not. When we feel forced to do something that we don’t want to do, we naturally feel distress.
We can change our perceptions about the things that we are doing, which means that there is a way to alleviate distress and to even change your experience of distress into eustress instead. We feel distress instead of eustress when we perceive something to be a threat rather than a challenge. And we can change our perception that something is a threat. We can turn things into a welcome and positive challenge instead. But being attuned to what naturally causes you eustress (instead of trying to make something feel good to you that currently feels distressing to you) is a very important part of identifying your personal purpose and intrinsic interests and intrinsic motivations. And so, I will leave you with these questions: What stress do you naturally find pleasurable? Have you noticed anything that feels distressing to others that instead feels like a good challenge to you?
Because the family is the framework of human society and the system into which a physical human is typically born and socialized, it is critical to become aware of family in general. But in the recent years, people have become confused about what my stance actually is on family. I’m hoping to clear up this confusion in today’s episode as well as to bring you some awareness about family in general.
Family is a complex concept because a family is really a group of people who are related either by blood (being descended from the same ancestry) or by affinity (being marriage or adoption). The affinity piece is the thing that makes family complicated because it implies that one can choose who to consider family. It implies that even though the government itself only recognizes relationships that are legalized in some way (such as legal marriage or legal adoption), in many people’s minds family may have more to do with who a person considers to be kin or who they feel belonging with, regardless of whether they are blood related or not and regardless of whether they live under the same roof or thousands of miles away.
But for the sake of this episode, I’m going to talk about family in terms of those blood or affinity relatives whom formed the social framework which you belonged to in your childhood. People like mom, dad, step mom, step dad, brothers, sisters, step siblings, grandpa, grandma, uncles, aunts, cousins etc.
Physical humans are a relationally dependent species. A family provides the framework for the sharing of material substances (such as food and shelter). It implies the meeting of each other’s needs. It implies the giving and receiving of care and nurture. It implies attachment as well as moral and sentimental ties. It implies enculturation and socialization. Family also provides the framework for successful reproduction. In theory, the purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and subsequently the wellbeing of society at large. Ideally, families would offer nourishment, predictability, structure and safety. For this reason, family is a value that is placed super high in most societies if not at the very top. And because society values family so highly, you have sayings like “everything comes and goes, but family is forever” and “family is where life begins and love never ends” and “family is what matters most”.
Indeed, family must never be trivialized. Family is fundamental to a person’s foundation and sense of wellbeing in the world. It is intensely traumatic and also goes against human nature for a person to separate from, become alienated from or go against their family. Separating from family is perhaps the closest external experience that an individuated person can have to losing a part of themselves. For this reason, it is a tragedy when this occurs. It is not the ideal situation at all. The ideal situation is that an entire family unit would adjust so as to ensure the wellbeing of all of its members and get closer in a healthy way. If I had it my way, any work that a person did on themselves would bring them closer to their family and all the people in their lives. Unfortunately, this ideal situation does not always occur. In fact, it rarely does. Tragically, the family’s unwillingness to make changes might just be the very thing preventing one of its members wellbeing, thus putting that person in the lose-lose scenario of parting ways with the family for the sake of their ownwellbeing or staying close and sacrificing their own wellbeing to do so.
What I am about to say will most likely stir a lot of offense. But you need to understand that to go against the family or to separate from them is an unnatural experience. It goes against biology. What has to happen in a family for this to occur or to be a healthy choice is very extreme. But the members of the family usually don’t recognize any ‘wrong doing’ on their parts. If a member of the family has separated from or gone against the family itself, the first place that a family should look is at themselves and at what needs to change within that family system. I could go so far as to say that when a person in a family is truly willing to look at themselves so as to make a change so as to repair rupture with another member, EVERYTHING would be on their side for re-connection. I’m going to give you a rather triggering example… Cults.
You will hear people saying that a cult ruined their relationship with one of their family members or that a cult separated them. It is true that a genuine cult often seeks to separate an individual from any person who is not a part of that cult. A person who is isolated is more susceptible to control. But unless there is a gap there already… an emptiness due to pain or missing needs due to family dysfunction, there is no space or need there for a cult to be able fill. No weakness to exploit. It is the family itself that creates those patterns of susceptibility and vulnerability and the family itself that is in dysfunction when trying to “rescue” one of its members from something that the family itself helped create and re-enforce. Going into a “hero/rescue” pattern is an avoidance of this realization as well as an avoidance of seeing what patterns within the family need to be changed and would constitute an actual solution. In other words… the joining a cult is a symptom, not a cause. And yes, I know how painful that is to swallow.
The first thing that you must understand about a family is that it is a social system. Social systems involve roles and ways of relating and social strategies and beliefs that are intensely resistant to change. Social systems are not always functional even if they are operational. In fact, most families in today’s un-awakened society are dysfunctional in that contrary to popular belief, they do not ensure the wellbeing of all of their members. Because of the various roles that each member is placed into, each member tends to have a very different experience of being a part of the family itself. Even though most families create wellbeing in certain ways and also prevent wellbeing in other ways, the reality is that some members are in more pain within the family system than others. The greatest tragedy of all in a world where most families have some element of dysfunction is that the members of those very families don’t even realize it. In fact, most people think their family is functional. People will fight tooth and nail that their family is not only functional, but healthy and good and even ‘the best’ family. Families often fight to not change, even if not changing means that one of the members stays hurting. In fact, they often make that member’s belonging in the family conditional upon that person not changing too. This is the reason that the successful addiction programs insist on involving the entire family system and on creating changes in the ways that each member interacts with each other within that system. Otherwise, the family system itself acts as an oppositional force to the addict’s sobriety. So often the dysfunction taking place in a family system is the very reason that one of its members has turned to addiction in the first place. Of course, hardly any family points to themselves when they are putting one of its members into a center for treatment.
There is extreme resistance to seeing one’s family for what it is, both positive and negative. People subconsciously and potentially even consciously think there to be a consequence for recognizing anything negative about their family. And sometimes the sad reality is that they are right about there being a consequence. This is why people tend to justify everything when it comes to their family. And families tend to justify everything they do when it comes to its members. They say things like: “yeah, but they (or we) did the best they (or we) could”. Or they normalize things like “yeah but everyone’s parents did that”. Or they minimize things like “yeah, but so many other people had it so much worse than I (or you) did” or “other kids have parents that give up on them in that situation”. Or they invalidate things like “yeah, but they gave me so much money and totally set me up in life to have the success I have today”. In other words, people tend to go into denial when it comes to their own family as a coping mechanism to avoid the consequence they fear would come as a result of seeing the truth about their family or making a change as a result of what they see. But this only ends up keeping them stuck. For this reason, it is important to watch three of my videos. The first is: The Catch Up Effect (Why We Really Fear Change). The Second is: The Real Reason That People Don’t Change. And the third is: How Normalization is Hurting You and Hurting Society.
A social system (in this case your family) and the role which you play within that system and the way that each part of that system relates to one another may just be the cause of your suffering and what is keeping you stuck. Even if the intentions of the other members of that system itself are good. Because the family system itself is so resistant to change, it resists you changing. This is why living with your family of origin as an adult usually makes it harder to create positive personal change. For example, imagine that you are trying to create abundance but you live with family members that believe money doesn’t grow on trees and all that matters is hard work and that rich people are evil. That environment acts as a daily oppositional force to your desire and goal. Unless the rest of the members in that family system are truly on board with supporting your new way of being and changing themselves to do so (not just saying they are and acting the opposite), it can be compared to trying to heal on the battlefield itself. What you need is a different thought and a different experience in order to shift. Not to try to shift despite being inundated with the same thought and the same experience that did cause or is causing the problem in the first place.
The second thing you must understand about family is that it is the foundation of your physical existence. You can think of it as where you acquired your building blocks. It is where your first formative experiences with relationships take place. It is the place where you were first programmed. This means your childhood experiences, primarily in your family, is where your patterns begin. Those patterns either set you up for things like success and pleasure or for things like failure and pain. Imagine that a cake came out of your oven and when you tasted it, it was inedible. The first thing you would do is to go back to review what ingredients you added. Or imagine that a software was malfunctioning, the first thing you would do is to go back and review the code and the original programming. When a person gets into self-awareness work, they must get into the habit of going back to find the family-based origins of their problems in their adult life. Their unwillingness to do so out of a sense of solidarity with the family, makes awareness of the problem and therefore awareness of what needs to happen to resolve that problem impossible. Essentially people sometimes and tragically choose solidarity with family over all other elements of their own wellbeing, even if doing so condemns them to a life of suffering in other ways.
For example, I knew a woman who was in the role of the family helper. She only fit into the family system if she was constantly putting everyone else first. Doing so was all that ever got her approval and therefore self-esteem. She slipped into a chronic patterns of self-neglect and complained about it for years until as a result, she developed a kind of cancer that occurs when someone is refusing to prioritize their own dreams and desires and purpose. In fact the type of cancer she had is nicknamed “the self-sacrifice cancer” in the natural health community. She was conscious enough and also aware enough of the emotional element involved with cancer to know this already. But her family put pressure on her to do what they wanted her to do as usual, but this time relative to her cancer treatment. She knew she would die by going along with what they wanted her to do for their sake and their sense of what was right to do. She called me to tell me that herself. But in the end, she decided to go along with their wishes and desires and needs because “she couldn’t live with the idea that if she died without fulfilling their wishes, they would always talk bad about her and about how she could be alive if only she had done the right thing… what they wanted her to do”. She literally chose solidarity with how her family would see and remember her over her own healing and in this case survival. Never underestimate the power of family dynamics to prevent the healing and progress and wellbeing of one of its members.
By opting into the nature genetics (which includes ancestral memory) and nurture experiences within a family, what you are really doing is to metaphorically speaking opt into a deck of cards. Some of those cards we could from one level judge as awesome and others we could judge as total crap. For example, a Scandinavian athlete may have opted into incredible physical prowess which gives him sexual attractiveness at the same time as aloofness which makes his relationships feel quite empty and distant.
We need to learn how to either change or exalt our crappy cards as well as to capitalize on our good cards that were given to us as a result of belonging to the family that we belonged to. Everyone has both transgenerational gifts and burdens to sort through. Everyone has both experiential gifts and burdens to sort through. Ancestry is an intensely powerful element of self-awareness, which is why I so often tell people to go back to their homeland at some point in their process of awakening. To understand some more about this, you can watch my video titled: What Your Parents Did Right.
The third thing you must understand about family is that some families are toxic in their current state. Some families exist in a state of ‘shadow tribe” and instead of ensuring the wellbeing and positive growth of its members, some families prevent it. When this is the case, the question is where do you draw the line and decide that being around them is not healthy? Or that not communicating is healthy? This is not an answer I’m going to give you. It is a question you must ask yourself and answer yourself. In general, it is in no way necessary for people to sever contact with and stop talking to their family in order to heal. The ideal would be the opposite, that they were conscious advocates for the process. But a person might very well be in a situation where they specifically can’t heal while still being in contact with certain family members. At least for a period of time.. such as the time it takes to feel solid in themselves so that their parent’s constant criticism doesn’t impact them in the same way. The biggest problem is that so many families exhibit behavior that is dysfunctional all the way to downright abusive without realizing that it is. In fact, most families think that they are being loving when they are in fact being the opposite. For example, a father might think that demanding academic excellence from his child is beneficial to the child, when in fact it may simply be instilling the pressure and the belief that they are only going to be loved if they succeed. An older brother may think that its loving to beat his younger brother up in order to ‘toughen him up for the world’ when in fact, it is simply teaching the younger brother that he is unsafe and has no advocates in life. A mother might hold the fact that she gave life to her children as leverage over their heads so that they ‘owe’ her later. This obligation to take care of each other may be seen as love by her, when in fact, it is entrapment. So much dysfunction and damage is disguised as love or mistaken for love. And unless we recognize those patterns and change them, our relationships and families and therefore human society will not improve.
For this reason, it is critical to understand that your family had dysfunction in it, whether you consciously recognize it or not yet. This is especially true if you are the kind of person who is drawn to self-help or spirituality. To be brutally honest with you, the people who are drawn to trying to figure themselves out and sort their problems out in the first place with self-help or spirituality, tend to come from families that fall on the more dysfunctional end of the spectrum. That dysfunction, no matter how minimal or extreme you currently judge it to be, did have a negative impact on you and on your adult life whether you recognize it yet or not. It is critical to be willing to see what those detrimental patterns were and are so as to change them. If you keep making excuses for them, you will keep yourself stuck.
The reality is that everyone has a valid excuse for everything. That does not change the reality that it did damage. It does not negate the pain. It is not a betrayal to your family to look to recognize these detrimental patterns and change them so as to have a better life experience and a healthier family system. And especially, to change those patterns so that they do not repeat in future generations. What does it say if your family considers it a betrayal for you to do so?
Families MUST get to a point where they care infinitely more about awareness and improvement and evolving and about the subjective experience and wellbeing of every one of its members than families care about defending their rightness or goodness in being the way they are or were. The sad reality is that if families got on board with a full system change when one of its members well-being depended on it, a person could un-do their trauma in no time at all. Healing would happen so fast if a person could do it with their family instead of in spite of their family or with the opposition of their family. I often think about this when all I would need for a person to shift immediately is the permission of one of their family members for them to do so. We must get to a point where we do not consider it a betrayal to the family to become aware of the negatives and positives and to question things and to ask for a system change.
So all that being said, don’t mistake someone making you aware of dysfunctional patterns within your family (so that you can change them for the better) for someone trying to separate you from your family.
Healing implies that some form of positive change is taking place. At the most fundamental level, to heal is to change a pattern for the better. It is the opposite of repetition and redundancy. It is to change a pattern that is unwanted into a pattern that is wanted. This usually entails changing it into the opposite pattern. For example, if we are lonely, to heal is to achieve togetherness. Or if a bone is broken, to heal is for it to mend. Or if we feel powerless, to heal is to feel empowered. To understand healing in-depth, you can watch my video titled: What is Healing? But there is an unhealthy tendency that can arise when a person is healing, which can easily be confused for healing, but that is in fact simply a dramatic swing into the opposite manifestation of unhealthy… A pendulum swing.
It is very common that when people begin to heal something, they swing the pendulum to the opposite extreme and by doing so, slip into the dysfunction and unhealthiness that exists on the opposite side of the scale. It is often a dramatic reaction instead of a deliberately chosen response. So that you understand what I mean, I will give you some examples.
The best example of this often happens when people who have a co-dependent relational strategy begin to heal. Someone who would be labeled a “codependent” is someone who comes from a dysfunctional childhood home whether they realize it or admit it or not. In that dysfunctional home, the underlying reality was: Every man for himself. There is no such experience as “I can have a self and have closeness and connection with them too” or “we take each other’s best interests as a part of our own best interests”. This makes it so that everyone must adopt a narcissistic strategy. The budding narcissist does this by vying for their own best interests directly. The budding codependent does this by vying for their own best interests in a covert and roundabout way. They give up their “self” to please the narcissistic people around them so that those people will meet their needs. Codependency is a back door narcissistic strategy. Because the codependent has never tasted what it is to be able to have a self and to have closeness and connection with others too, they can only conceive of one way to heal from codependency and to gain autonomy… to do it against others. To start to be all about the self. Ironically, without realizing it, they swing the pendulum from covert narcissism to overt narcissism. The codependent becomes narcissistic, thinking that doing so is healing. But it is just swinging the pendulum to the opposite, unhealthy extreme. And they will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person has trauma around taking on too much responsibility. They were saddled with burden. Let’s imagine that they were put in charge of raising all of their siblings when they were growing up. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to the point where they are unreliable, flaky and refuse to take any responsibility. Because of this, they suffer the consequences that exist at this side of dysfunction, such as losing relationships, being unable to hold down a job, others losing respect for them, and being stuck in life. They will suffer and also cause others to suffer from that new unhealthy extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine someone who felt powerless to the negative way they felt and powerless to the other people around them. This person might find a methodology that teaches them to control their reality by ignoring anything negative and not spending time with anyone who they think is negative. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to denial, avoidance, and the refusal to accommodate others. They may begin to build a narcissistic bubble reality for themselves alone. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine a person who is addicted. They use addiction to avoid some pain within themselves that they cannot seem to resolve. They are in a perpetual state of “runaway” relative to themselves. This person might hear about shadow work and suddenly feel like there might be a way to solve their pain. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to obsessively doing difficult shadow work processes all the time. This runs their nervous system into the ground, making their mental, emotional and physical bodies raw, being unable to effectively integrate and process and apply what they gain awareness of. And effectively giving themselves the damaging message that something is wrong with them and must be fixed immediately. Shadow work then becomes a different form of self-abuse. Because of this, they and others around them will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that a person is hurt by someone else. They experience the pain of being connected to and dependent on someone else. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to disconnecting from others and becoming totally independent. Because of this, they slip into the illusion that it is possible to be separate and not depend on anything or anyone. They push people way. Deep down, they know they are very, very alone. They behave in ways that harm others because they are not genuinely connected to them. But because they are disconnected, they don’t even realize it. They and others will suffer from that new dysfunctional extreme.
Another example is let’s imagine that someone is super hopeful and excited and is wounded by a major disappointment. This person may begin to heal and swing the pendulum all the way over to expecting bad things to happen, letting themselves down and discouraging themselves before the world ever has a chance to do it for them. They may become a cynic. Because of this, they end up chronically stuck in the negative. They maintain a pattern of self-sabotage. Their negative mentality and behavior causes others to deny them of the kindness, reliability and sweetness that they actually crave deep down. They and others will suffer greatly from this new dysfunctional extreme.
By now, after these examples, you get the picture.
I don’t want you to think that the goal of healing is to find the balance. Within mankind’s consciousness, balance is something that is achieved by a process of addition and subtraction. This is also the idea behind the limiting concept of balancing work and play by either working more or working less depending on what is needed to achieve equal parts of work and play for example. If you live your life according to the principal of balance, you will end up exhausted. You will also never be able to fully actualize yourself because you will be trying to limit aspects of yourself while trying to accentuate others instead of becoming the full expression of both and finding a way for the full expression of both to harmonize. Balance upholds separation. It seeks to create equilibrium between two different things instead of seeking to combine them. Where consciousness is headed is integration. In integration, polarities come together to form a third thing entirely, the sum of both. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: F#!K Balance (Rethinking Balance and What it means to be Balanced).
When I say that to heal is to experience the opposite, what I mean is that the goal of healing is for example to re-own that polarity which is disowned or to experience what one is lacking. For example, it is for the person who is harmed by others to experience being helped by others. It is for a codependent to learn they can have and keep a “self” at the same time as being deeply connected to other people. And including others’ best interests as a part of their own best interests without throwing their own best interests away. It is for the person who is addicted to use shadow work to see themselves, including what they really need and to meet those needs lovingly. It is for a person who feels powerless to the negative way that they feel to really learn how to see what is and see what they want instead and to be able to in an empowered way, close the gap between the two. It is for a person who was traumatized with too much burden to step into free will and to choose what to take responsibility for and what not to take responsibility for, so as to see that chosen responsibility is what leads to the empowered creation of what personally benefits them. It is for a person who was disappointed to experience their hopes coming to fruition.
When it comes to healing, it is important to discern what is “experiencing the healthy opposite” and what is “swinging the pendulum”… To discern what is a polarizing reaction and what is a deliberately chosen response. The good news is that you will learn from anything that you do. A person who does swing the pendulum will eventually feel the reality of the cause and effect (and therefore consequences) associated with that new extreme. And it will eventually cause them to alter their patterns more toward their actual healthy state of being. But you can prevent the time this takes and the damage this can create both to you and to others by being aware of this typical pendulum swing of healing and by consciously discerning what genuine healing and genuine positive pattern change would look like instead.
Nothing has the power to completely alter perspective and therefore your thoughts and actions and life quite like a question. Inquiry leads to understanding. The quality of the answers we arrive at, correspond directly to the quality of question we ask. The better the question, the better the answer. One of the most important things to realize about a question is that a person learns far, far more from the process and work involved in answering a question than from the answer itself. This is why spiritual teachers throughout history (including myself) have tended to pose so many questions to their students rather than to simply offer a direct answer. For this reason, I have selected a collection of 100 of the most powerful questions that you can ask yourself.
What do I really want for myself at this point in my life and why do I want it?
What am I willing to struggle for?
What specific risks am I willing to take to be happy?
What do I want badly enough that I will say YES to any of the downsides that might come with that thing?
What am I so committed to that no amount of failure could prevent me from continuing to do it or to aim for it?
If I knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns, and I had to choose my thorns, what thorns would I choose… What pain will I choose or say YES to?
Who do I feel I am meant to be in this life?
What do I feel I am meant to do in this life?
Imagining that I died yesterday, what would I regret? What things would I have done differently? What things am I glad that I did? If I got another shot at life and was brought back to life today, what would I now have the courage to do that I didn't while I was alive? And what advice would I give to myself sitting right here in this chair today if after my death, I could come back to this moment?
Who do I need to be to achieve my purpose?
What do I not know?
If I had all the money in the world and could never run out of it, what would I do with my time, energy and resources?
What would I still do even if I never made any money doing it?
What If I lost everything yesterday and so I no longer had anything to lose… What would I do if I had nothing to lose?
What is the number one belief in my life that holds me back and prevents me from getting what I want in life?
If I were to watch myself like a fly on a wall, based on what I am seeing relative to my thoughts, words, routines and actions, where can I expect to be in five years?
If I knew that I was going to die one year from today, what would I do with that time?
What gift am I meant to give this world in this life?
What do I want people to say about me behind my back and how do I want to be remembered?
If my six-year-old self could see me today, what would he or she think of me? What would he or she want me to change?
What makes me forget to eat and sleep?
When do I remember feeling the happiest in my childhood and why?
What would I take a stand for and what would I take a stand against?
What would I risk my life for and why?
What about my life is worth smiling about right now?
What makes me feel unfulfilled and sad in the life I am currently living?
What do I complain about more than anything else?
What do I want my life to be in service of?
If I did one thing for myself, not anyone else for the rest of my life, what would it be?
What have I done in the past that is the most meaningful to me?
What do I want my being to be in service of or to be used as a tool for?
What was the defining moment that changed my life forever?
If a magic Genie gave me one wish to make for myself, what would that wish be and why?
What am I pretending to not know?
What pain from the past am I still holding on to that is holding me back today?
What one sentence will come to define my life?
What do I not want others to know about me?
What am I naturally good /talented at?
What would I leave as it is in my current life and what would I change?
What am I doing in my life just because I “should” not because I truly want to?
What makes me feel great about myself?
What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
What problem do I want to solve?
If my house was burning and I could only save one item (not a person or pet), what would it be and why?
What is my #1 value today and why?
What conflict is not resolved in my life?
What is my hidden agenda and why is it hidden?
What is something I keep telling myself that I will do when I have the time or resources?
If I could change my life somehow with no risk, what would I change? And knowing that, what risk am I trying to avoid by not changing?
What would I be willing to lose everything for, including the closeness/connection with the people who are the closest to me now (i.e.: friends and family) if I knew it would 100% guarantee me that thing?
What pain am I holding on to as a testament of my love for someone or something?
What point of view currently threatens me and why?
How do I define success for me personally? And how do I define success for others?
How am I currently neglecting or harming myself?
What expectation do I need to let go of right now?
What am I not taking responsibility for that I know I need to take responsibility for?
What armor do I use to protect my vulnerability?
How do I separate myself?
What do I say I “can’t" to?
Who or what do I blame?
Who or what is my scapegoat?
What would I try if I had no fear?
What would I most like to do for someone else if I had the time, money and resources?
What is the worst thing that I do to myself right now in my life?
What is the best thing that I do for myself right now in my life?
What assumption do I make chronically that is getting in my way?
What do I currently feel has power over me? And how might I reclaim my power from it?
If I could start my life over, what would I do differently?
Who do I envy and why? And how could I bring those things that I envy into my own life experience?
Whose life would I trade places with and why?
What do I love to do for others?
If I’m given one wish, but I can’t use it on myself, what would I wish for and for what/who?
A singer notices a talented vocalist, a car mechanic notices a well-made engine. What do I notice?
When do I feel most alive?
What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
What is my rut? In what area of healing or progress am I blocked or stuck no matter how hard I try to fix it?
If I had to leave my house all day, every day, where would I go and what would I do?
What do I appreciate about myself?
What am I overcompensating for?
What do I do that doesn’t seem like work, regardless of the difficulty?
What is calling me? What desires keep tugging at my heart?
How do I make myself bigger and how do I make myself smaller than I am?
What do I refuse to accept about my reality?
What is timeless, ageless and unchanging in me?
What am I avoiding right now and why?
What have I lost?
What am I currently allowing?
What makes me lose my connection to myself and what makes me get that connection back?
What do I love too much to turn into a profession?
Who needs to know that I love them? And what keeps me from expressing that love to them?
Who am I seeking approval and validation from and why?
What am I currently afraid of?
Whose torch am I carrying and why?
What am I running from and what am I rushing toward and why?
What am I repeating?
If I was someone else, so I was able to see myself from the outside and in a dis-identified way, what advice would I give to myself?
If I were to be brutally honest, what is my priority at this time in my life and why?
What risk am I taking and what risk am I not taking right now and why?
What am I giving to get?
What do I hear in the silence?
Make sure to take time to carefully consider each question that is posed in order to meaningfully answer them. And don’t forget to come back to these questions again and again throughout your life, especially whenever you are feeling stuck, because the answers will most likely change over the course of your life and also cause you to change your course in life.
There is an idea making its way through people’s minds that if you are doing the right thing or are fulfilling your purpose or are following your joy, you will only feel good. This is not the reality of existence.
At this point in existence, no matter what you choose to do, all things will inherently come with contrast. They will come with positives and negatives, upsides and downsides. People want to be happy. They want to feel good. And a big part of expansion is about continually making changes so as to resolve the pain that you feel in any given situation; instead of simply accepting that ‘things are the way they are’. But I want you to consider today a different way of looking at life. There is a question you can ask yourself that will define your deepest joy, your actual purpose, your actual commitment and therefore the actual correct course of your life. That question is: What Pain Will You Say Yes to?
Seeing as how my purpose is the transformation of suffering, most of what I will be teaching you is how to transform pain… Which will seem at face value to be the opposite of what I will teach you in this article today. I must teach you to look at pain and at the unwanted from a different angle entirely.
Consider that all things with an upside come with a downside. All things come with some kind of pain. For example, fame comes with the downside of things like never being able to trust the motives of people trying to be near you and being treated like a commodity instead of a person and others actively trying to tear you down and strip you of your power. Entrepreneurship comes with the downside of things like unstable pay, no benefits, less security, discouragement from others who would rather you play it safe, having to work longer and harder than others and having a hard time getting loans. Being a winning athlete comes with the downside of things like blood and sweat and tears and not being able to attend that family members wedding because it is happening at the same time as that competition.
If I were to sit a group of people down and question them about what they want, chances are all of them will say that they want to be rich. All of them will say that they want to have a great relationship. All of them will say that they want to be perfectly physically fit. All of them will say that they want to be #1… You get the point. But the reality is that very few of them, potentially only one, would actually be willing to say yes to the negatives or the downsides of those things. For example, they all may want to be rich, but maybe only one of them will say yes to financial risk, or to a 60 hour work week or to the delayed gratification of saving to invest or to the extreme pressure of striking out on their own as an entrepreneur or to the extreme pressure of work place competition. They may all want a great relationship. But maybe only one of them will say yes to re-visiting their painful past to resolve the trauma that is making them behave in damaging ways in their relationships. Or committing to difficult conversations or to opening themselves up again to connect even when they have been hurt again and again.
The pain that you will say yes to and the struggle you will choose to step into with your own free will, that is what will define your success in life. The positive that everyone is looking for is born from the mud of those things that so many people look to avoid. You cannot cause yourself to want or to like those downsides and that struggle and that pain that comes with the upsides and success and joy that you want. But you can choose them with your own free will as a statement of what you are willing to experience or endure for the sake of what you want. You can look at the thing you want and decide that it is worth the cost to you specifically.
The thing that determines your success relative to whatever it is that you want is not that you want it or even how much you want it. It also isn’t how much you enjoy it. What determines success is what pain you are willing to face and what struggle you are willing to go through and what you are willing to endure for the sake of what you love and want.
So often, when a person says that they want something, but they aren’t getting any closer to it, it is because they either do not truly want it at all. Or they want a fantasy of the thing, not the reality of the thing. Or they do want it but are simply not choosing any of the ‘thorns’ that come with it. In other words, they have decided on a subconscious level that they don’t want it enough because the cost is not worth the benefit. You’ve got to want the reward enough to say yes to the cost or the struggle.
For example, I once knew a person who wanted to be a famous Hollywood actress for her entire life. She had her life entirely planned out around it and had fantasized about it for her entire life. Even so, her ‘dream’ never came. She was in love with the fantasy and the idea of the result… The flashing cameras and red carpets, the million-dollar pay checks, being on the cover of magazines, feeling significant. But in truth, she hated the process. She hated sitting next to a thousand other people in audition lines. She hated the embarrassment and drudgery of rehearsing. She hated the cutthroat atmosphere of LA. She hated networking. And so, she didn’t really pour all of her energy into it. She didn’t actually say yes to it, regardless of whether she didn’t like it. She refused to go to certain auditions. She didn’t really work on the ‘craft’ of acting itself. She avoided the business side of networking and marketing and selling herself. People may say that she gave up on herself or wasn’t courageous enough or that it just wasn’t in the cards for her. But the reality is that she didn’t really want it. She most certainly didn’t want it enough to decide to say yes to the pain and struggle and process of it.
You are here on this planet for a very specific reason. You being here is no mistake. You have a purpose and that purpose will be indicated to you through your joy. This means that you have something that you want and you have something that you want badly enough to say yes to any of the downsides that might come with that thing. You may simply not know what it is that you want ‘badly enough’ yet.
What are you willing to struggle for? What are you willing to endure pain for? If you knew that life was not only roses, but also thorns and you had to choose your thorns, what thorns would you choose? What are you so committed to that no amount of failure, only death could prevent you from continuing to do it or to aim for it? The quality of your life experience depends on you answering this question. It depends on determining what values you care so deeply about that you are willing to struggle for them. And how people answer this question will give you the most accurate picture of how their lives will turn out. And so, it may sound odd, but a key element of surmounting suffering relative to success is having the answer to the question “How Do I Choose to Suffer in This Life?”
It is inevitable in life that certain circumstances, events and experiences will call your life into question. They will cause you to re-evaluate your life. For example, when someone gets married, it might cause you to question the quality and satisfaction of your own relationships or the sacrifices you might be making for the sake of your career. When you go through a breakup, it may call into question your identity. It may force you to re-evaluate your own behaviors and thoughts and desires. When you start feeling stuck in your endeavors, you may start to wonder what or who you are doing it for. When you come across some information or an experience that causes you to question a belief that you have always held, it may make you question so many of the decisions you have made up to this point. It may cause you to doubt the people whom you have depended on to tell you what is true. When someone dies, it may make you existentially question life itself. It may make you question what is important in your life and who is important. It may make you completely re-evaluate what you are doing with your time.
We don’t like to re-evaluate. We don’t like to question ourselves or others or our lives. The majority of people in the world are under immense pressure to have everything all figured out all the time. And when we don’t consciously “choose” to re-evaluate and to question, because we feel a life circumstance has forced us to do it, we feel destabilized and insecure. We feel like the rug of certainty is being pulled out from under our feet. And we also feel shame. Because of this, if you are in one of these situations that causes you to question your life, I suggest you watch my video titled: Uncertainty (How to Deal with Uncertainty).
All people have been socialized to believe that they should do the right things and be the right way. When our lives are called into question, we often lose the certainty of knowing that we have done or are doing the right things. We lose the certainty of knowing that we have been or are being the right way. We tend to feel we might have done wrong or might currently be doing wrong. This often causes us to slip into vulnerability and total lack of confidence. And in response to this, we often become very defensive and rigid, trying to re-establish that certainty by defending what we have done or are doing… When really, we are not even convinced of our rightness.
Because of all of this, we naturally resist this calling of our lives into question. We feel that nested inside these experiences that cause us to re-evaluate is some kind of personal failure and badness and wrongness. But what is really nested in these experiences is the calling for change and the opportunity for life improvement. Nested in these experiences is the reality of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’. And because of this, we should welcome them. And we should also realize that they will never stop coming. They will come in the form of people that we will inevitably meet, events that will happen or not happen and things we will hear or read or watch etc.
Embrace the idea that you can never be 100% sure. You are obsessed with knowing because you think that if you know, you can prevent unwanted things from happening. But the state of learning is a higher state than the state of knowing because it is a state that is open to all possibilities, including possibilities that will offer much more happiness than you have now. Knowing is a state of ended-ness. You are here to expand, to evolve, to progress. This means that you must open to the idea of adopting a different and better truth down the road. Having an open mind is akin to having a life raft on the river of life. You can metaphorically take that raft and ride the rapids of the current of life.
When you welcome the calling of your life into question, you become curious about where this life is going to take you. If our life journey were to be compared to a river, most of us spend our lives trying to control the current of the river. We do not consciously know where the river will take us. Some of us only know where we would prefer for it to take us. We can develop practices and take actions and think thoughts that make the trip down the river, a journey of more ease. But in order to embrace the circumstances that cause you to question your life, let go of the idea that you can control the river itself. This is what we are trying to do when we try to find and hold on to affixed, solid answers and/or ways of thinking and behaving in our life. What does this universe want to show you and where does it want you to go? With that kind of curiosity comes a willingness to change course completely. What doing this causes, is a rooting into improvement in and of itself, instead of a rooting into that which can be destabilized or lost or changed.
Because the calling for change and the opportunity for life improvement is nested inside these experiences that cause us to question our lives, we should welcome them. The word welcome has a connotation that you have to feel happy and good about these circumstances and events and situations. That is not what I mean. You don’t have to try to feel good about or appreciate the things that cause you pain, as some of these experiences will. You can’t force yourself to want them. What you can do is to metaphorically speaking ‘open the door for them and invite them in for tea’ when they arrive. Greet and receive them. Instead of resisting the fact that you are experiencing something that is causing you to question your life, actively and willingly get on board and question your life. Actively seek new and different and more information. Look through the lens of different perspectives. Questioning (when the intention behind it is to truly be open to different answers) is always an open door to more awareness and better answers. This means questioning is an open door to improvement and positive change. The people who are the most aware and the happiest are the people most willing to question their life and make changes to it. If you are able to form this association, even the painful circumstances that call your life into question will contain potential and promise and therefore, be less painful than they would otherwise be.
Just think about where we would be if certain people hadn’t questioned and re-evaluated things in their life… How many inventions would never have been invented? How many barbaric practices would still be practiced? The Buddha would have continued to live his entire life on a satin cushion as a prince and never found awakening. Abraham Lincoln would have stayed retired after the senate elections and never become president and the US would be in a very different spot with slavery and segregation today. Where would you be today if you had continued thinking and doing the exact same things as you did 10 years ago or 20 years ago?
Let those questions come. Welcome those things that call your life into question. See them for the improvement opportunity inherent in them. We can address the shadow of resistance to dependability and resistance to keeping the course in another episode. You must know that there is no failure or shame in changing course over and over again in your life. There is nothing bad or wrong about going back to the drawing board. In fact, you must be willing to do that if you want true life success. You must stop and re-evaluate and question to be sure that you are on the right path and/or to figure out what the right path for you actually is. So be brave enough to open the door to the re-evaluation and the questioning of your life. Be brave enough to open the door for your growth.
Looking to complete something or finish what you start is an important element of creating success, except for when it comes to things where there is never going to be an end. And one of the reasons that people suffer is that they tend to look for a point of ended-ness in things that have no end. They look to get things done, when there is no way to get it done.
One of the most common pitfalls of a person’s early spiritual practice (and when I say early spiritual practice, consider that a person could potentially be practicing spirituality and remain in the early stages of spiritual practice for an entire lifetime) is that they look to reach some point of ended-ness. They work incredibly hard, often making themselves miserable trying to reach a finish-line. That finish line could be something like enlightenment or complete integration and wholeness or being totally healed or being so fulfilled that you have no more desire or being totally conscious with no more unconsciousness within their being. Essentially, they strive relentlessly to be done in some way so that they can finally feel good. What they don’t realize until they experience years of never being able to reach that finish line is that the finish line doesn’t inherently exist. They are chasing a receding horizon line.
Before I continue with the rest of this article, I should probably tell you that I am not one of those beings who is relaxed and who loves being in the present moment and whom is all about the journey and not the destination. I am a super driven, achievement oriented being. The feeling of accomplishment and the potential of reaching a state of complete mastery is my single favorite thing. For this reason, what I am about to say comes with inherent credibility. When it comes to certain things, you need to hold to the goal loosely. You need to use it as a North Star and keep pointed in its direction. Fall in love with the potential of reaching that goal and with the possibility of achievement, knowing full well that you may never, ever make it there. Indeed, no one may ever make it there. When this is the case, your goals become a thing which dictates your direction in life. Not the measure by which you determine your success or happiness or lack thereof. It is also a literal guarantee that you will do things differently because suddenly, the satisfaction of the journey or process actually does matter. If the means are crappy, they are not justified by the ends, if the ends never come.
Let me explain just three of the things which may never have an “end”.
Enlightenment may never have an end. Enlightenment is complete awakening and complete awareness. It is to be able to resonate at the same frequency as source itself and as such, to be aware of what source is consciously aware of (this includes self-realization). It is to be able to perceive universal objective truth (which is the amalgamation of all subjective perspectives). Here is the problem with that. Humans tend to project the idea onto what they call Source or God or the Universe at large that it is all knowing, that it is entirely conscious and aware and that people are playing a game of catch up to Source’s state of completion. This is not accurate. If it were, no universal expansion would be occurring. There would also be no purpose to life itself, being in and of itself a mechanism through which learning, awareness, evolution and progression occurs. Source itself has a subconscious. It is continuously becoming more and more self-aware. It is in the process of awakening in and of itself. So any enlightenment that can be attained is gone the next second because that barrier of knowledge within Source mind itself is constantly expanding. There is no such thing as enlightened retirement or spiritual ended-ness. And even if there could be, would the universe choose that ended-ness over the exploration of all possibilities? If you could get this, every bit of awareness you gain would be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Another thing which may never have an end is healing. The spiritual field and self-help field and psychology field is full to the brim with people desperate to heal completely. They all want that one answer that is going to be the answer and that fixes the things they feel are unhealed in one go. They become completely discouraged to find layer after layer after layer after layer that needs to be healed. Because they never reach their imaginary finish line of healing, they feel discouraged, a sense of futility and a serious lack of self-esteem, as if they are just totally messed up. The entire universe, which you are a part of and also a fractal of, is in a state of fragmentation. If you could truly grasp the degree of this fragmentation and if you could grasp that other ‘things’ including other people in the universe were a part of you, you would stop thinking this was a one life-time endeavor. It would overwhelm you to such a degree that you would stop thinking you could fix it all.
Also, you don’t have to heal something completely to experience an improvement. Many people have an attitude when it comes to healing like they have to completely finish healing in order to feel good. This is not the case; every bit of healing will bring more and more improvement. More and more relief. Better and better life circumstances. So, if you looked at healing like a lifelong process, instead of rushing to get it all completed, you would have the intention and desire but not desperation to fix it all. Each time it became obvious that something needed to be healed, you’d feel excitement that an opportunity for things to be even better for you has arrived. And every time you experienced healing to any pattern or layer within your mind, emotions or body would be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Another thing which may never end is desire. Even the desire to not have desire, is a desire. Desire is the primary element that is creating both universal and personal expansion. It is not the devil as you have been encouraged to believe. You only suffer relative to desire if you think the day will ever come that you do not desire more or if you desire something that you think you cannot have. A desire cannot exist in you if it is not meant to be aligned with and thus actualized. And desire will never end. No matter how much you have and no matter what you attain, you will always, always want more and want something else. Joy must be separated from desire. Lining up with your desire can cause joy. But joy can be in the continual expansion and amendment of desire. If you know it will never end, a relaxation about attaining all that you desire will occur.
Make peace with desire. Make peace with the contrast (the wanted and unwanted) which gives birth to desire. If you accept all of this, you don’t have to make the achievement of all of your desires that goal line of happy ended-ness. Instead, allowing yourself to continually align with and follow your desires through life can in and of itself be what induces joy because it will be an experience of ‘the better it gets, the better it gets’.
Now that you are getting a feeling for this concept, I want you to ask yourself the question relative to whatever it is that you want to get done… Why do you want to get it done? What do you imagine will be the outcome or consequence if you do not? Can you see any resistance inherent in that? Really look inside yourself for the answer without making your desire to get it done wrong in and of itself. The desperate desire to get things done may just be an attitude of resistance to something. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Urgent, Deal with Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else. Then ask yourself, what if I knew today with a 100% guarantee that there is no way to get it done and so I am never going to get it done? What would you do differently today and tomorrow and the next day?
You will be able to find your joy in life when you ask this question. The reason is that the people who experience genuine life satisfaction are the ones who would continue doing something and continue following the North Star of a certain desire or goal, even if they know they may never achieve it. It is in fact an indication of their love for the doing of something instead of the doneness of that thing. For example, Jacques Cousteau may have had the goal of exploring all the world’s oceans. It didn’t matter if he didn’t accomplish it in his lifetime, that wouldn’t stop him from going for it because he loved the doing of it. Each time, the better it got, the better it got. Each time he experienced more.
Another example is that a person who loves shadow work is not looking to get rid of their shadow or reach a state of total consciousness. Even if total conscious awareness is a goal of theirs, they follow it like a North Star they may never reach. The reason they keep doing it day after day is because they love knowing and seeing more and more. They love the outcomes. Each time, the better it gets, the better it gets. Each time, their shadow work causes them to be aware of more. The idea that there is endless possibility for them to become more and more aware each day; and a never-ending supply of things to become aware of, is exciting to them.
Consider that if you desperately need it to be done or to end, you don’t like the doing of it, whatever it is. And you did not come to this existence to hate the process of the doing of your life.
The fear of responsibility is actually common enough that it has even been given a name: Hypengyophobia. And like most fears, it exists as a kind of sliding scale. Some people who struggle with this fear experience a strong aversion to responsibility. Others have full blown anxiety attacks at even the thought of taking responsibility and as such, refuse to take responsibility of any kind. While this fear and aversion may seem irrational, there are definite reasons for developing this fear. It is important to know that the fear of taking responsibility isn’t usually about responsibility in and of itself. It is the fear that by taking responsibility in a specific situation, you will come into contact with or experience something that you fear. For example, by taking responsibility, I will experience intense pressure. Or by taking responsibility, I am the one to blame and will therefore be blamed and feel shame and low self-esteem as a result.
The top reason for the fear of responsibility is lack of confidence. To understand this fear, think about it like this: Have you ever been in a situation where someone was doing a job poorly and you were tempted to just take over the job to do it right? In this scenario, you were about to take responsibility for the task. The reason that you had this impulse is that you have a high degree of confidence relative to that task and relative to your ability to do it better than that person could. Now think about the opposite scenario. Think about a time in your life where you didn’t feel a high degree of confidence in your ability to do something well and certainly not relative to your ability to do it better than other people. Do you remember your hesitancy about taking responsibility for that task? You didn’t really feel that CAN relative to the situation. Many people who fear responsibility are stuck in the second scenario with almost everything in their life. If you struggle with responsibility, this keeps you in the comfort zone of not taking responsibility. But it implies that you have a serious lack of confidence in general and serious low self-esteem.
You now know the main contributor to the fear of responsibility is the lack of confidence. So, the next few points are going to outline some of the most common reasons for that lack of confidence as it applies to the fear of responsibility. The first one is the fear of making mistakes. If you fear responsibility, usually this means you are terrified of making mistakes because of what you make mistakes mean, especially based off of previous experiences. For example, you may feel a mistake will lead to conflict you can’t handle or a consequence that can’t be undone or that mistakes mean that you are incompetent and therefore will decrease your self-esteem even further.
The next reason people may fear responsibility is the fear of failure. Again, this is because of what failure means to you. The fear of failure is most common amongst people who were routinely humiliated and undermined in childhood by the very people who they looked to as a barometer of their worth and success. Instead of being supportive, their parents were critical.
You may also fear competition, especially the potential elements of loss of closeness and failure that can come with the experience of competition. For many people with the fear of responsibility, the fear of being at odds or against someone and the fear of doing worse than other people can, could, would or will do is enough to make them avoid taking responsibility for something altogether. If you struggle with this fear, consider your relationship to the idea of losing. Trauma relative to competition can involve the loss of self-esteem by being judged as worse than someone else. It can also involve the loss of closeness with people who devalue you for losing as well as the loss of closeness with whomever you are now ‘pitted against’.
If you fear taking responsibility, you have to look at your relationship to conflict. So many people with the fear of responsibility have a huge issue with the fear of conflict. This ironically can take two basic forms.
1. For some people who have an aversion to taking responsibility it is all about how other people react in the situation in which they are taking responsibility. When they took responsibility and the result led to someone’s displeasure, that displeasure became a conflict between themselves and the other person and they desperately needed closeness and alignment with that person to feel ok, but they couldn’t create that repair. So many people who struggle with the fear of responsibility have a huge issue with feeling like they let people down.
2. Some people who have an aversion to taking responsibility actually experienced success when they took responsibility for something. But that success threatened someone (like mom or dad) and made them feel bad. This also led to conflict and so, their association with taking responsibility is that it leads to conflict. Either way, consider that responsibility may be linked with conflict in your being, and conflict is not something that you feel empowered relative to.
Another reason that contributes to the fear of taking responsibility is the fear of negative emotions. More specifically, the fear of not feeling equipped to handle or regulate your negative emotions when they come up, which they would if you took responsibility for something and it didn’t go well. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Emotional Wake Up Call.
Aversion to pressure is another main contributor to the aversion of responsibility. Consider what your relationship to being under pressure is, especially emotional pressure. The fear of pressure is a perpetual anxiety that usually involves the constant feeling that you have to produce something, but that you doubt whether you can. It is an “I have to produce X or else” scenario and this pressure produces distress instead of the pressure producing eustress. This causes an aversion to any situation in which you experience pressure. And responsibility often feels like pressure because it implies that you are the one with the power to produce in your hands.
The next reason that you might have an aversion to taking responsibility is that the experience of taking responsibility in the past did not lead to anything that you wanted or that improved your life. It simply led to the betterment of someone else’s life. People who are hyper responsible experience responsibility as a way of gaining control and taking their power in any given situation to bring about what is in their own best interests. They have had responsibility = reward experiences and so that positive link is formed in their being. If you have a serious aversion to responsibility, so far you may not have that responsibility - reward experience. Instead, you have either a responsibility = punishment/pain or responsibility = nothing happens for me experience.
It is very common, but not usually recognized that people who have an aversion to responsibility felt forced into co-dependent relationships in their childhoods. They were pushed to take responsibility for things, but those things they took responsibility for didn’t lead to any improvement for themselves, only improvement for whomever demanded that they take responsibility for those things.
I’ll use two examples to illustrate this point. One boy may be interested in tennis. So he takes responsibility for reading about tennis, getting a summer job so he can pay for a coach, riding his bike to practice and he sees that because of this responsibility he took, he gets better and better at tennis and eventually even wins a tournament. This boy learns that responsibility personally benefits him.
Another boy may feel forced by his mother to take care of the other younger siblings in the house. Doing so did not get him any closer to what he wanted. It improved his mother’s life. But if anything, taking that responsibility took him further away from personal benefit. Consider if you have a fear of responsibility that you may have been conditioned to see responsibility as something that involves no personal benefit and therefore it may make you immediately blind to the personal benefit involved in taking responsibility in any given situation. Consider also that responsibility might just immediately trigger you into feeling manipulated, controlled, obligated and self-sacrificing.
The last point I am going to mention is the fear of repeating the past. People who fear responsibility have had trauma relative to the experience of taking responsibility. Trauma naturally puts you in the place of avoiding the same bad experience happening again. This can take a more direct form such as someone having been in charge in a situation (like being responsible for younger brother and younger brother got hurt and had to go to the hospital). Or it can be not wanting any other trauma associated with taking responsibility to repeat again such as feeling like someone is controlling you to do something for their benefit, failing, making a mistake, letting other people down, developing an even worse sense of confidence and self-esteem than you already have or getting into conflicts etc.
Knowing all of that, what should you do if you have a fear and therefore an aversion to responsibility?
Allow yourself to consider that it is actually your choice to not take responsibility ever again for anything. If you struggle with responsibility, you will notice that you often feel like you are bulldozing yourself to take responsibility; as if it is something that you HAVE to do. But this just reinforces the original drudgery and dislike with which you approach responsibility. So close your eyes and play out the decision to not take any responsibility at all. Play it out for a day, week, month, year, several years, the rest of your life. You will notice certain consequences will happen and you will watch your adaptation to those consequences. But those consequences are not being done to you. They aren’t personal. They are simply happening because we live in a universe of cause and effect where anything someone does or doesn’t do has an effect. You still get to choose whether to say yes or no to that effect and then change the causation. Essentially, you have to see that responsibility is actually a choice. And if you are going to choose to take responsibility, it should be because you have decided that you want to own the causation. You want to ensure that certain consequences don’t happen for your sake.
See if you can see how powerless it makes you to hope and expect consequences not to occur. See how powerless it feels and makes you to hope and expect for people to one day not give you any consequences. Consider what would put you back in a position of power relative to responsibility. The first step is to realize that taking responsibility is a choice that you can consciously say no or say yes to! To be conscious, you simply have to make that decision in a super informed way. You have to see the potential personal consequences and benefits of either choice.
Did you notice how much of the aversion to responsibility has to do with trauma that has happened relative to taking responsibility? You can use the trigger of responsibility or of the feeling of pressure that you have to produce ‘or else’ or of the sinking feeling of lack of confidence to go back to whatever traumatic experiences are linked to this aversion in order to create resolve with them. I have created one such process to do exactly this. You can find out how to do this process by reading my book ‘The Completion Process’ and/or by finding a practitioner to work with on www.completionprocess.com. Doing this un-does the past. It resolves the root cause of your aversion to responsibility.
Work directly with the part(s) of you that fears and/or hates responsibility. And find and resource the part(s) within you that can have a positive relationship to responsibility using parts work. To find out how to do this, watch my video titled: Parts Work (What is Parts Work and How to Do It). Nothing will give you deeper insight into what your specific aversion to responsibility is than doing this. I do have some Completion Process Certified Practitioners who are adept at facilitating parts work if you feel like you need some assistance with this.
Start to change your relationship with and perspective about responsibility. Essentially, what responsibility is, is owning your own life. Responsibility is the opposite of the state of victimhood. If you don’t own your life, chances are much higher that someone else will. Also, you forgo the power to create what the life you want, the way you want it. In order to change some of your perspectives about responsibility, watch my video titled: Responsibility (Why, When and How To Take it). As well as Take your Power Back.
In any situation in which you fear taking responsibility, become aware of that fear, look into the why you feel that way in that specific situation and voice that fear to any people involved. Face your fear of mistakes and failure (as well as the potential humiliation you fear resulting from it) instead of subconsciously running from them your whole life. Put your apprehension on the table in the exact situation in which it comes up. This takes you out of avoidance mode as well as potential self-bulldozing mode. It also puts you and the people involved in the position of choice about what to do about it and how to resolve it. Dealing with that fear and trying to create solutions to it in the situation itself will increase your empowerment around responsibility as well as decrease the likelihood that any mishap with the responsibility you took would lead to failure or conflict with others.
For example, imagine that you were given an assignment at work and you actually realized you were afraid of taking responsibility for it. Imagine that you voiced that fact to the other people. This allows both you and them to begin to brainstorm ways to resolve the situation. At the work place, a person lacking confidence in a task that they are in charge of, is a problem for everyone involved in that business. So, a boss or colleague might give you access to resources which will make the job easier for you to do or change who is in charge of the task itself. You can only resolve what you are aware of and admit to and look into the why of in the moment.
Recognize the lack of confidence inherent in your fear of taking responsibility and instead of simply accepting that lack of confidence (because you are so acclimatized to low self-esteem), actively come up with things you could do to increase your confidence in the situation at hand. For example, in one situation this could be working to un-root and replace self-defeating core beliefs. In another situation, say you were given a task at work and you didn’t want to take that responsibility because you didn’t trust yourself to know how to do it well, your confidence might be increased by learning something or finding a more skilled person to show you something that would enhance your trust that you could do the task well. In the situation at hand, relative to what you have responsibility for, what would increase your confidence?
Resource when taking responsibility goes well. If your trauma around responsibility is extreme enough, you never notice when you take responsibility and it leads to good results. You only notice when it goes badly. So begin to take notice and really feel the empowerment and confidence when you take responsibility for things and it yields a positive result. This has to be done like an active awareness practice. Without realizing it, you are actually taking responsibility all day long! For example, when you fix yourself something to eat, that is a form of taking responsibility. To consciously experience the satisfaction of eating whatever you made for yourself is to resource that responsibility having yielded positive results. Can you think of any times in the past where you took responsibility for something and it went well no matter how small or large? Make a list. You are essentially re-wiring your brain and forming different associations with responsibility by doing this.
This exercise of noticing situations in which you take responsibility and you didn’t even think of it as taking responsibility as well as when you take responsibility and it goes well will help you to recognize the exact conditions in which taking responsibility becomes an issue for you. It will help you see what those variables to what you see as ‘responsibility to be avoided’ are.
Become more empowered around conflict in general. Relationships involve the inevitability of rupture. The degree of security and joy felt within a relationship is really about your capacity to create repair. Right now, you probably don’t trust your capacity to create that, so every conflict is seen as a serious threat rather than a calling to embody greater depths of intimacy and harmony. Or a calling to become as aware as possible of ourselves and others relative to a subject. Because the fear of responsibility is so closely linked to the fear of conflict, it would benefit you to watch my videos titled: How to Overcome The Fear Of Conflict and How to Resolve Conflict.
Because as we discussed earlier, the perception for many who struggle with responsibility is that them taking responsibility is always something that benefits others instead of themselves, self-sacrifice is a problem. Because of this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Self Sacrifice, The Most Self-Centered Thing in The World.
If you experience an aversion to responsibility, the reality is that you are currently not empowered. You may feel like you don’t have control over what happens to you in your life. But here is the thing, you may not be able to prevent yourself from being fired, but you can improve your tool kit of skills and search for another job. You may not be able to prevent yourself from being rejected by another person. But you can find out why and either choose to make changes to yourself or use that information to look for someone who would be more compatible. You may not be able to choose what’s happening to you but you can choose the way you are going to deal with it. You can try different ways of doing things again and again until you finally achieve whatever it is that you are wanting. Responsibility is about finding the CAN and WILL in any situation. Consider WHY you automatically feel as if you can’t. When and how and why did that begin? If you refuse to face your fear of taking responsibility and so you continue to subconsciously refuse to take responsibility, a part of you will always make you feel bad about yourself. Avoiding responsibility is a self-fulfilling cycle when it comes to confidence and self-esteem.
While it is hard for someone who feels disempowered to feel the CAN and WILL in any given experience, that CAN and WILL is something that you deserve to experience. That empowerment can be yours as soon as you recognize in yourself the courage to carry the emotional burden that comes with taking responsibility.
The shadow is any aspect of a thing that is not exposed to the light of consciousness. The human shadow therefore, is any aspect of a person that is not exposed to the light of their own consciousness. It is what you don’t know that you don’t know. Shadow work is the process of making the unconscious conscious and the unacceptable, acceptable. It includes any process or practice that makes you aware of the unconscious and which brings about the integration of unconsciousness. And as such, it leads to complete and total awareness. To understand about shadow work in a much more in-depth way, watch my videos titled: What is Shadow Work?, Diving Deep (Shadow Work) and Shadow Work vs. Positive Focus.
The sad reality is that for a lot of people, the term shadow work conjures up all kinds of negative and dark associations. Because of those associations we have with the word shadow, it is easy to think that shadow work is a dark spiritual practice. Or that it is internal work that involves only the more negative or sinister aspects of our personality. Or that it simply gets you stuck in pain and powerlessness. Or that if you focus on the shadow, all you get and create is more shadow. However, none of this is actually the case. For this reason, even though several books would not be enough to cover all of the potential benefits of shadow work, I’m going to explain to you the main benefits of doing shadow work.
Shadow work is a tool. It is a tool just like focusing on the positive is a tool. You can master that tool, just like one could master any tool. Shadow work isn’t a way of being. It isn’t something that happens to you. It is not something that consumes your life. It isn’t the full picture. It is a tool for becoming aware, stepping out of and changing negative patterns, getting into a more objective reality, moving into free will and conscious choice and thus creating your existence intentionally and consciously.
Shadow work makes you conscious and perceive things clearly. It is to come to know what you do not know that you do not know. In fact, there is no way to be conscious, aware and to awaken without it. It puts you squarely in the truth. And in reality. Therefore, literally any benefit that could come from seeing the truth or having a more objective perspective or being aware or being in reality can be realized through shadow work.
It creates empowerment. Your axis of power is in reality and you can’t be in reality unless you are aware. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: Reality and How To Call Bulls#!t on Denial. But shadow implies lack of awareness. It implies what you don’t know and what you have suppressed, rejected, denied, disowned and pushed out of your awareness. Awareness puts you in a position of choice. This means it puts you in the position of free will instead of determinism. For example, you may not be aware until you do shadow work that you keep ending up in hell in relationships because your early life experiences taught you to believe that love is when someone is suffering and unhappy in the relationship and stays anyway because they care about the other person that much. Once you know that, you can consciously begin to dismantle that belief, so that your new definition of love can be caring so much that you ensure each other wellbeing and pleasure. You are then in the position to choose compatible partners to be in a relationship with. Some people fear that shadow work will lead them to be in more suffering. But this will only happen if you begin to see things as they are, but are either convinced you can’t change them, or are not willing to change them.
There is tons of gold in the shadow. Many people assume that the shadow is all bad and all painful. Actually, there is plenty that a person doesn’t know that they don’t know that is positive and pleasurable. Also, there is a lot that we suppress, deny, reject, disown and push away from the conscious that is positive and pleasurable. For example, imagine that in your childhood, you were artistic. Imagine that the purpose you came into this life with was to be an artist. But you came into a family that was obsessed with academics and that discouraged art. To gain closeness with your family, you might have suppressed, rejected and denied your artistic talent and your purpose along with it. Doing shadow work will inevitably cause you to recover your artistic talent and your life purpose.
Shadow work causes a re-owning of the self. It causes you to become authentic. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How To Be Authentic. It causes you to get to know yourself and your personal truth. Among other things, the process of socialization and trauma that we all inevitably experience causes us to begin to fragment. Our personalities are in essence, fake. Until we become conscious and aware of ourselves, our personalities are merely the parts of ourselves that we identified with so as to stay safe and away from vulnerability in the very specific situations and circumstances that we were raised in.
We suppress, reject, deny and disown the aspects that make us vulnerable or get us disapproved of in the world. By doing this, they become subconscious. They are buried outside of our awareness and we don’t know they even exist, even though they tend to be visible to other people around us. This means, we are not who we think we are. Shadow work shows you who you really are and what you really want. It makes you self-aware. There is no way to have a happy life unless you are self-aware. You have to know your actual truth and own it in order to choose what is right for you. Choosing what is personally right for you is the only way to experience life satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment.
Shadow work gets you un-stuck. You are only truly stuck if you don’t know what is actually happening. You have to know what is happening to begin to problem solve so as to do something about it. Shadow work does that. Many people think that shadow work makes them powerless. It doesn’t… it simply makes them face their powerlessness. By facing it, you are observing it and therefore not it. You are disidentified from it. If you choose to introduce consciousness to powerlessness by choice, it is by definition not powerlessness anymore because you have introduced the frequency of free will to it.
It makes you aware of and therefore causes you to disidentify from and change patterns and cycles so they don’t repeat and can be changed. People repeat patterns personally and intergenerationally. Because of this, most people live in a deterministic way. They keep ending up with unavailable partners over and over again. Patterns of addiction and abuse and negative core beliefs keep going from one generation to the next and to the next. Humanity itself repeats the same pattern over and over again. Shadow work stops the cycle, breaks the chain and offers the ability to change these patterns so that you can consciously choose your beliefs, your actions and your life experiences.
Shadow work causes integration. Integration is what causes peace. It causes integration internally, which leads to internal peace and externally, which leads to peace in your life and world peace. It reverses the process of fragmentation, which is the cause of so much suffering in your life and suffering in the world. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The World Wide Disease.
It brings you closer to your desires so you can actually attain them. First of all, most people think they know what they want. But they don’t. For example, if you have been raised in a conservative family that is all about marriage, you may think that what you really want is marriage, when in fact the only reason you think you want that is because you want approval from your family. Or for example, we may think we want to be a lawyer. But really, we just want money and social status and we have a limited perspective about HOW we could go about getting it. Shadow work shows you what you truly want and why. It also expands what is possible.
On top of that, shadow work shows you what is in the way of what you want. It reveals resistance. Resolving those things is the key to getting what you want. For example, imagine that you have no idea why no matter how hard you try, you can’t lose weight. Shadow work may reveal that the part of your consciousness that has control over your body has no intention of losing weight. It wants to be fat because it uses that fat as a buffer against the unsafety in the world and uses it as a substitute boundary because you can’t keep your own boundaries. Working with this part to find resolve will be critical to losing weight. In fact, unless you do, every diet and exercise program will fail. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Urgent, Deal With Your Resistance Before You Do Anything Else!
Shadow work causes you to become aware of and to resolve your trauma, which is the underlying issue that causes the current patterns in your life that are hurting you and harming your life. This is perhaps the most serious item on my list. Trauma is a state of emotional and mental distress caused by an experience that is not resolved. You don’t have to be abused or experience what a person would consider to be a tragedy (like war or sexual abuse or loss of a loved one) to experience trauma. It is traumatic to experience birth in today’s mainstream medical facilities. It is traumatic to a baby to be weaned. It is traumatic to a three-year-old to lose track of his mother in a grocery store. Even the best parents on earth cannot manage to raise a child in a way that the child will experience no trauma. The problem is that if we do not have a way to resolve and thus integrate that trauma we experience when we are young, then we shape our lives and make choices according to trauma. We also have the tendency to normalize or even forget about it. And worse than this, because this is a mirror based universe, managed by what many call ‘the law of attraction’, and in order to try to cause us to heal these traumas, this universe will continue to offer us more opportunities to heal them in the form of putting us in similar situations again and again. And they tend to amplify or get worse over time.
For example, if we never actually resolved the fact that our father left us at age four, we may simply decide that to save ourselves from the pain of loss, we will be super independent and never get attached to anyone ever again. Not only will we experience intimacy issues in our adulthood because of this experience, we will experience people abandoning us. This pattern will become worse because when we are abandoned, we will use that to justify our original decision to push people away before they ever get a chance to push us away, thus increasing the chance that they will abandon us. It becomes an ever-worsening vicious spiral. If we are able to become aware of and resolve this original trauma, as well as the alterations we made to ourselves because of it, we have the ability to actually create a stable, reliable connection with others in our life. Shadow work may also reveal that things we thought were resolved, are not actually resolved and that is why situations like it are repeating in our lives.
Shadow work causes you to go way below and above the surface of things. It puts you in touch with the blue print or the fundamental level of existence below the limits of the surface of existence. This enhances your knowledge, depth, capabilities, scope and expanse. You can think of it like a two-dimensional person becoming third dimensional. This makes you capable of seeing things others can’t and doing things others don’t know are possible. It makes you more powerful. This is the reason that awakened people seem to be so much… more.
It gives you conscious control over what you create and manifest. Many people who teach law of attraction and manifestation are over simplifying it to the point of ignorance. Focus and intention and thought is powerful. As are the actions that one takes to create. But in the effort and time it takes you to focus on one thing, your subconscious mind can focus effortlessly on several and without you even knowing it. This is why it isn’t hard for an Olympic swimmer to swim while planning dinner. The entire process of swimming is subconscious.
Your conscious mind is not responsible for the bulk of your overall personal vibration. Your subconscious mind is. And it is your overall personal vibration that is your point of attraction. This is a big deal in a universe managed by the law of attraction. It means for example that if you sit down to do the affirmation “I am good enough”, that thought is competing with several, much more engrained and strong frequencies such as “I’m too fat. “No one really wants me”. And “people who think they are good enough are always the worst kinds of people”.
Your point of attraction is more complicated than “whatever you consciously focus on and do”. Because of this, until you do shadow work, you have very little control over what happens in your life. It feels like everything happens TO you and you don’t know why. By becoming aware of the contents of your subconscious and well as what you don’t know about the world and the universe, this naturally allows you to consciously change and improve your point of attraction. And the more conscious you are, the more you are consciously creating when you are thinking, saying, choosing and doing things. It will feel like you have control over your life and you will know why things happen in your life. This pulls you out of the experience of victimhood.
In the same vein of creation, blocked energy and inauthenticity inhibits creativity. Shadow work resolves those blockages and that resistance and as the energy of conscious awareness courses through you, your creative potential comes flooding through. You become a much more creative person.
Shadow work helps you to have successful, healthy, enjoyable and conscious relationships. Relationships are life. You have a relationship with other people. You have a relationship with every element of your life such as your career, your food, your hobbies, your body etc. Therefore, your quality of life boils down to the quality of your relationships.
Doing shadow work will make it so people don’t trigger you as easily. You will become more mature and healthier and more functional in your relationship dynamics. For example, you may have a terrible relationship with your child. Doing shadow work may reveal that you hate the qualities in your child that you suppressed, denied and disowned in yourself, such as selfishness. Perhaps you rejected your own selfishness and in turn self-sacrificed your life for your husband and children. But you resent it. So, every time your child acts in his or her best interests, you feel that resentment towards them. This awareness may cause you to re-think that decision and start to do things for yourself. This might then cause you to stop criticizing your child and for there to be no more resentment towards him or her.
It enhances your mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing. It is painful and exhausting to not be aware. It is draining and painful to keep denying, suppressing, rejecting, disowning and pushing things away or trying to keep a closet door closed when its contents are overflowing. Suppression causes fatigue and disease, plain and simple. As you liberate the suppressed energy and more of the energy of consciousness is allowed to flow through all the different aspects of you, the health of all of those levels of you will dramatically improve. You will have more energy. Shadow work also creates a sense of stability and strength, which makes you feel equal to life and very much alive.
Those are just some of the benefits of doing shadow work. The more aware you are of your shadow, the more embodied you are as a conscious being. No one ever reached enlightenment without confronting their shadow and exposing it to the light of consciousness. The time has come for people to master this tool, the tool which will lead to their liberation.
(Why self-help, personal development, psychology, relationships, physical health and spirituality go hand in hand)
Spirituality and self-help and personal development and psychology and relationships and health and wellness are so enmeshed that as far as markets go, they are often considered to be one and the same field. This can complicate things. Is a spiritual teacher giving advice on someone’s depression acting as a therapist now? Is a self-help expert now a guru? We could spend time separating these elements out from one another. But In today’s episode, I’m going to show you the bigger picture as to why they absolutely do go hand in hand.
The first thing to understand is that incarnation is really nonphysical energy (what we would call “spiritual”) manifesting physically. This means that there is nothing that is not spiritual. There is no single thing in physical existence that is not spiritual. This obviously means that it is impossible in reality to define what is spiritual and what is not. From this perspective, you are a spirit having a human experience. And you do so for a very important purpose; a multi layered purpose, which at a more objective level is about universal expansion and at a more subjective level is about personal expansion. For the sake of your understanding, the process of consciousness manifesting as a person in the 3-D can be compared to creating, and then coming into, the first-person perspective of an avatar in a video game that you also created. The point is to be fully focused into that video game so as to make the very most of that experience and use it to “level up”. This means that the most spiritual path is the path of really living life itself… Becoming self-actualized.
To make the most of your life itself, to consciously use your physically incarnated experience to become aware and to use that awareness to consciously create in the physical is in fact the highest spiritual path. This means, there are people who do not think of god and who are not aware of their nonphysical self, but whom are powerfully committed to self-development or the perfection of a craft here in the physical (say a passionate musician for example) who are in fact walking a more spiritually in alignment path than some who have dedicated their entire life to god or an afterlife or spiritual discipline. Many people who are aware that there is a nonphysical dimension to existence do not understand this. They believe that to live a spiritual life is to see physical life as an illusion to transcend. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How Human Intelligence Is Destroying Human Nature (Anti Human).
Becoming aware implies coming to the awareness that there is more to this life than meets the physical eye. It is becoming aware that this physical self is not ALL that you are. It is becoming aware of your nonphysical perspective. Because you are not just physical, awareness implies becoming aware of what is ‘spiritual’ or ‘incorporeal’… The bigger picture of this universe. The degree of both personal and universal expansion that occurs with this awareness, is exponential.
Becoming aware implies coming into the awareness of your physical incarnation as well. When non-physical energy manifests in a physical form, experientially it manifests as the layers that could be called mind, body and feeling. Having awareness of and caretaking all three layers of your physical incarnation are critical to health and to your ability to stay in alignment with your non-physical self as well as its purpose for coming into the physical. This all of a sudden drags physical health into the picture of spirituality as well and makes things even more complicated. Health and wellness now cannot be considered entirely separate from spirituality as well. So, is a spiritual leader now a healer or doctor too?
On top of this, coming into a separate, physical incarnation immediately implies the perception of self and other. This means, the second that you incarnate, you are in a relationship, not only does a relationship exist between your physical and nonphysical ‘selfhood’ but also between yourself and all other things in existence. Life is relationships. Your sense of wellbeing in life is really about the quality of your relationships. Therefore, the mastery of relationships can no longer be separated from your path of spiritual progression.
Spirituality, self-help, personal development, health, wellness, relationships and psychology are in fact all intertwined. They are all parts of the reality of your existence as a human. You could technically split hairs so as to define a person’s expertise at any level of this dynamic I have just described. Any expert who specializes in any aspect of this layer-cake of existence will have a slightly different perspective on the person standing in front of them. And it is only possible to only focus on one layer without the other…. Until it is not.
For example, a person would not have to even believe in a spiritual dimension to the universe to unravel their childhood trauma or to work on their limiting beliefs. But if they encounter a limiting belief that calls existential truth into question, or would be unraveled only by seeing existential truths, it is no longer possible. Or, a person could pray all day long and find all kinds of answers to their own progression in meditation until the day that they realize that their meditation has all been an escape mechanism and they have some psychological avoidance patterns to address.
The basic thing to understand about life is that because these layers of existence are so integral to one another, it can be impossible to have a full picture of what is occurring with someone, without taking ALL of the elements of them into account… non physical, mental, ‘emotional’, and physical. An impediment to a person’s progression, awareness, health, success, happiness, desires and self-actualization etc. could happen at any of these levels.
Any expert in any of these fields (spirituality, self-help, personal development, relationship, health, wellness, and psychology) whether it is a guru, a doctor, a psychologist, a self-help expert, a relationship counselor, an energy healer, a therapist or a yogi etc. is wanting the same thing: For the person to find alignment… Which creates a state of wellbeing. And very often, this means that a spiritual teacher must talk not only about theology or meaning or existential truth with a person, but about the conditions of their childhood, what emotional wounds are in the way of manifesting the things they want, their relationship patterns or their body etc. This means that a doctor may not be able to find a cure to a physical ailment until they take into account the way that emotional traumas influence the tissues of the body and therefore the quality of their marriage. This means that a psychologist may need to also address a problem from the angle of hormonal imbalance or meridian blockage or ancestral trauma. What any expert in any of these fields offers another expert is deeper insight into what is going on within the layer cake of a person.
It is inevitable that one’s spiritual path, as long as they continue to progress on that path instead of stagnate, will lead them directly to the conscious understanding that they are here in this life to learn, to become aware, to love, to transform, to progress, to manifest, to heal, to create and to become self-actualized. This leads them to a curiosity about what is in the way of doing that. And this self-actualization can only be achieved with a conscious commitment to learning about all the elements of self-actualization, including but not limited to: Physical health, wellness, self-help, self-development, manifestation, relationships, shadow work, success, psychology and emotions… And consciously choosing to ‘level up in life’ by applying what they learn. This is why, instead of separate, to stand in a position of truth, all of these things go hand in hand. And as humanity continues to develop, instead of becoming more separated and defined, all elements of healing and progressing and actualizing will in fact become more and more integrative.
Agree to disagree is a common English phrase, though some variation of the concept that it conveys exists in nearly every culture on the planet. It essentially means that no resolution to a disagreement, debate or quarrel will occur and so continuing it is unnecessary, ineffective and pointless. Therefore, it must come to end by each party tolerating but not accepting the other’s opposing opinion. Essentially, the only way to find alignment is to agree upon dropping the debate and simply consent to disagreeing (having different opinions on a subject). Many people within society believe that agreeing to disagree is a mature, conscious and amicable thing to do. But the reality is quite the opposite.
The first problem with agree to disagree is that it thwarts personal and universal expansion. The universe is trying to bring people with opposing thoughts together so as to create expansion relative to thought. This universe hopes that people would constantly expand and improve and re-invent their perspective and thoughts. If two people are committed to truth and they come together holding two opposing perspectives, it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for expansion through arriving at a higher truth. Either one person sees the truth of the other’s perspective and changes their own perspective, often in ways that benefit him or her. Or because of their mutual commitment to finding the truth, they arrive at a truth that is higher or more accommodative than either of their perspectives were originally. A philosopher is the person within society that understands this concept best. A scientist must understand this also in order to do good work. To agree to disagree is to consciously declare a stalemate. This is to agree to stuckness and lack of resolve, both of which directly defy progress and growth and movement and expansion. It is just as stuck to say agree to disagree as it is to say you agree or act like you do, when really you don’t. For this reason, it is not only a limitation for you, it is a guarantee that the universe will turn up the heat on that particular issue. You can’t avoid it forever. It will come to a head where the situation at hand does not allow for the toleration of each other’s opposed perspectives.
The second problem with agree to disagree is that it is not actually possible in the grand scheme of things. It is impossible once there is a conflict of interests. It is definitely not possible when it comes to topics (that result in conflict) which really matter. Some differences do not cause conflict. These are the “little things”. Others do cause conflict. These are the big things. They occur when two people’s thoughts, opinions, beliefs or perspective is incompatible. On top of this, given that the universe will turn the heat up on points of stuckness, if it is possible to use agree to disagree to avoid further conflict in the short term, it becomes impossible to maintain this strategy in the long run. For example, if someone was of the opinion that the best thing to do was to plow a road through your property and yours was that it was a terrible idea, you could not say agree to disagree because you’d wake up to a road plowed through your property.
Opinions lead to choices and actions. People who say agree to disagree seem to somehow believe that opinions do not lead to choices and actions or that if they do, it will somehow not affect them. The reality is that if opinions are opposed, so are choices and actions, which impact others. This is why agree to disagree depends upon the variable of safety. For example, let’s imagine that one set of parents disagrees with vaccines and the other agrees with them. They can only say agree to disagree until the point where a law is looking to be passed mandating them. The reason is that if the parents who believe that all children must be vaccinated, believe that unvaccinated children are a health risk, they may vote to take away body sovereignty as a human right. There is no longer a way for either set of parents to avoid or maintain the amicability of this agreed upon stalemate, because they have now found themselves in a zero-sum game with their safety on the line. Another example is, in most families you can say “agree to disagree” relative to religion until the point that someone in the family dies and it’s a fight over what type of funeral service will be held. Agree to disagree is conflict avoidance plain and simple. Avoidance does not make the conflict go away. It simply delays it until a later date.
The third problem with agree to disagree is that contrary to popular belief, it is damaging to relationships. Agree to disagree is often how we try to avoid conflict or prevent the loss of closeness with someone. It is our way to remain on amicable terms while continuing to disagree about unresolved issues. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: How to Overcome the Fear of Conflict and How to Resolve A Conflict. People can only say agree to disagree when they believe that doing so, will not affect them. This means, agree to disagree can only be something that someone agrees to if they perceive themselves to be separate and separate in a way that someone’s opinion will not lead to choices or actions that go against their best interests, affect them or harm them in any way. The motto is “as long as it doesn’t affect me and mine.” It’s a ‘you do you and I do me’ philosophy of existence, which is distancing by nature. But all of this is hidden under the guise of tolerance. It is in fact a rigid and narcissistic and separate way of being, all of which are a huge detriment to relationships.
It must also be said that people who say “agree to disagree” think they are right and the other is wrong. Therefore, saying agree to disagree really means “I’ll just passively wait for you to ‘wise up’ and stop being so stupid or unaware and eventually, you’ll see I was right. Until then, we are going to put this conflict under the floor boards.” This is in fact a form of active suppression. When people use this phrase, they are waiting for the “I told you so” moment and are convinced it will come. Agreeing to disagree is about thinking you are right and so, never fall for the lie that it makes the acceptance of differences or the acceptance of diversity of perspectives possible.
To say agree to disagree is to resist a state of alignment or resist the commitment to finding alignment. Think of what is happening energetically when one chooses to forgo the experience of alignment. This is a very ‘out of reality’ perspective to hold in a consensus reality, which is what this time space reality is. You are not the only one creating reality in a consensus reality. On top of this, it opens the door wide for zero sum games in relationships. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Zero Sum Game (What is A Zero Sum Game and How To End One).
On top of this, seeing as how no actual resolution has come, the unresolved conflict or opposition exists as an elephant in the room. It is an active state of dissonance, which ads considerably to the emotional tension and pressure in the relationship. It is also a ‘giving up’ on alignment. People who say agree to disagree do so because they feel powerless to find alignment or to get there to be any pliability in their perspective or the other person’s perspective or both. Agree to disagree is therefore often a forfeit in a relationship relative to finding alignment or higher truth.
The fourth problem with agree to disagree is that it allows people with a poor sense of self, to maintain a sense of self specifically through opposition. It is possible for people to have a healthy sense of self and alignment with others at the same time. But agree to disagree is an out of alignment way to try to accomplish “I can have me and I can have you too”. Some people perceive the changing of their perspectives or ideas to be a loss of self. They feel consumed or as if they lose themselves when they reach agreement or alignment.
You may hear people saying things like “I’m entitled to my opinion”. This is actually a logical fallacy. Whether someone has the right or is entitled to an opinion has absolutely nothing to do with whether their opinion is right or wrong or is reflective of truth. Therefore, it is a way of discrediting opposition and creating a diversion from the disagreement at hand. It is to subconsciously fight for freedom (the freedom or right not to be right, not to be reasonable and to stick to their perspective no matter what contradictory thoughts or evidence they are met with) when that has nothing to do with the actual validity of one’s stance.
All this being said, people use agree to disagree as a way to preserve identity and get a self-esteem kick from staying in a position of opposition to something. This is especially the case for people who have experienced enmeshment trauma. There are people who are enmeshed who will see committing to reaching agreement as a giving up their truth but this is not the case. If you arrive at a new truth, that is your truth, so you cannot say you lost your truth, you simply changed or updated it. Agree to disagree is also a way that people can maintain a false sense of enlightenment or wokeness relative to their identity. There are a great many things that people think make them good, which in fact do not. Agree to disagree, (just like meditating to escape reality or using positive focus as a tool of resistance of the negative, or being politically correct to stay safe and performatively woke) is one of these things.
Instead of saying agree to disagree, we need to commit to finding alignment. To be completely honest with you, with regards to many situations that are at hand or will be shorty, it is not a luxury for the human race to agree to disagree. By defending the idea of agree to disagree, we will be unknowingly defending the idea of bulldozing others. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Bulldozing (The Way To Ruin Your Relationship With Yourself). And consider that it isn’t a virtue to only care about bulldozing and consider it a bad thing when we are the ones being bulldozed.
We need to be honest with ourselves if our goal is something other than alignment and truth. Ask yourself what is more important for you than alignment with others and why? What is more important for you than truth and why? Notice if you feel immediately like you must conform when this topic is raised. Address the fear of loss of self, loss of freedom and loss of personal truth inherent in this. Know that conformity is not true alignment and so, that is not what is being asked of you at all.
Seek first to understand… To see more, more more… instead of to agree. Accept that we must own up to the reality that our personal experiences have shaped our perspectives in ways that might just mean that they are limited and un-accommodative and therefore not reflective of objective truth. Try to commit to the practice of seeking objective truth. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Objective Truth. The better you are at disidentifying from your thoughts and beliefs and perspectives, the easier it will be to question and change them. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Disidentification (The Practice of Non-Attachment).
I am going to end this article with a question: Agree to disagree is really an assertion that certain conflicts are unresolvable. Is there such a thing as an unresolvable conflict? If so, should people accept that certain conflicts are unresolvable? What are the potential benefits and shadows inherent in doing so or not doing so.
Something that sets humans apart from every other species on earth is the fact that they resist themselves. It would stand to reason that a creature imbued with self-conceptualization would be the creature to develop self-resistance. But this self-resistance is to blame for so much of the suffering within the human race. And until people recognize this pattern, they will continue to perpetuate suffering.
Upon coming into this physical life, you become two points of perspective. Your nonphysical perspective and experience, which is not human and your physical perspective and experience, which is human. Coming into a human perspective and experience means that you opt into several things. You opt into things like human limitations, human strengths, human biology and physiology, human needs, human aversions, human preferences, human impulses, and human patterns. Because the physical human is a part of the animal kingdom on earth, you opt into experiencing existence as an animal. By the way, your-self concept (ego) is the only reason you would have an issue with that.
You don’t see other species running around with an issue with this. For example, you don’t see a deer having a self-esteem crisis because it is not able to feel ok wandering around alone as opposed to wanting to be in a herd. You don’t see a cuttlefish in a state of shame because his color changes according to his environment. You don’t see a female hyena guilt tripping herself for being more masculine and dominant than the males in her cackle. You don’t see bonobos contriving ways to control their wild sexual behaviors. You don’t see a bear trying to suppress its shaking after a trauma. You don’t see a dog being ostracized by other dogs for barking. You don’t see a dolphin trying to stop thinking. You don’t see an elephant thinking something is wrong with it because it has emotions. You get the point.
People are intelligent enough to have self-concept amongst other things, but are not yet intelligent enough to ensure that their intelligence doesn’t cause problems for themselves and for other species on the planet. They have used that intelligence for thousands of years to go against their own nature. People have gone into resistance relative to what is human about themselves and others. They have become anti-human with themselves and with each other. Instead of seeking to integrate their two perspectives, they have tried to use their non-physical perspective as a trump card over their physical human perspective. They have tried to transcend their human-ness. To try to transcend that which is human in you, is to reject that which is human in you. And no two things have contributed more to this damaging pattern than religion and spirituality. The thing is, all that will come out of that resistance is pain.
Our intellect has caused us to advance and form our society and shape our world in many ways that are in fact counter to our biology and nature and therefore needs. To give you just some examples so you can better understand what I mean:
A human is a relationally dependent group species. People have gone against this and forgotten that connection is the number one human need. They have propagated the idea that independence and aloneness is a virtue and shame each other for dependence. Being relationally dependent, a person is not actually capable of not caring what other members of its group think. That is both dangerous and impossible physiologically. Yet, it is still something self-help experts try to teach. Being relationally dependent, it is not natural for a loved one to travel or to be away from the group for large periods of time. It threatens our sense of attachment and security. Yet, we live in a society now where travel is normal and it is normal for people to be gone from each other and separated at work all day. As people become more and more separate, they ‘normalize’ it, but they become more and more unhappy, relationships suffer. Suicide rates go up and health goes down.
A human female is ready to reproduce when she gets her menstrual period, the average of which is 12 years old. She reaches the peak of her fertility in her early to mid-twenties. After that, her fertility decreases and declines impressively. At age 35, doctors consider a pregnancy a ‘geriatric pregnancy’ or to be more politically correct, an ‘advance maternal age pregnancy’. In the complexity of our modern society, the age of ‘readiness’ for things like pair bonding and reproducing keeps increasing. Most women and their male counterparts are now ‘ready’ to have babies well after a woman is biologically prime. Infertility has increased at an alarming rate because of it, as have the risk factors and negative effects involved in late maternal age reproduction.
For more than a hundred thousand years, the physical human foraged and hunted… Until they figured out how to farm. Then, in the early 1800s, they came up with processing foods. Ultimately food became an industry. The decision to farm ultimately led to the food system we have today. A food system that goes directly against health for the physical human. The human body is not designed to eat processed sugars. Chemical additives are used to preserve the food so it can travel long distances, but that damage the human body. The soil is being stripped of nutrients so the food that exists today has so much less nutritional value than it used to.
The physical human is an intensely touch oriented, sexual species. However, as civilizations evolved, so did the management of human sexuality. For example, once land ownership was a concern for humans in a patriarchal society, so was the determining of paternity. Female sexuality then had to be controlled. And sexual standards had to be differentiated by gender. The institution of marriage became important as was that it be between a man and woman only. Essentially any time society changed in a way where the structure of social control was threatened by sexuality, sexuality had to be further controlled. Thus, the idea of right vs. wrong was attached to sexuality. Religions became impregnated with ideology designed to enforce social control. Just look at the seven deadly sins in the bible. All of which pose a threat to social control. It taught people when sexuality is ok and when it is not ok. People began to go against their own sexuality and to become ashamed of it. It caused people to regulate each other and to go to war with their own sexuality and bodies. The human race is now intensely out of alignment sexually.
The human being has thoughts and emotions and desire. Desire is in fact the necessary ingredient for personal and universal expansion. Emotion is a carrier of personal truth, the barometer of connection between the nonphysical and physical perspective. Thought is a necessary part of both perception and creation. When the human perceived these three things to be a problem, the human sought to get rid of or control thought and emotion. The human saw desire as a cause of suffering and sought to become desireless. Several spiritual ideologies cropped up to support this idea, turning people against their own minds, emotions and desires.
I’m going to end with a super politically incorrect reality. The physical human has taken himself out of the food chain on earth. He has transcended the elements and also geography. Life for the physical human is no longer one of natural selection. There is a lot more to natural selection than survival of the fittest. One of the reasons that humans survived to such an incredible degree is their tendency towards cooperative behavior and community organization. But this means that the weakest of our species, those who would not naturally be breeding in nature are breeding… And as humanity gets sicker and sicker, we simply come up with medications to help them survive and go on to pass on weak genes.
On top of that, females are still biologically wired to want protection and to be attracted to power for the sake of protection. But the person who has the most power in society is no longer the classic alpha male full of physical prowess. He is a Mark Zuckerberg, a Jeff Bezos, a Bill Gates. So female attraction is at odds with the new reality of masculine power. On top of that, as oppressed females sought to break free from abuse in a patriarchal society, they did so in a way where they rejected their own femininity and took on masculine behavior and traits so as to compete with men in a male dominated society. This threw the masculine and feminine completely out of alignment within humanity. And now, there is a war between genders, relationship dysfunction and all kinds of mental, emotional and physical health issues in people because of it.
You cannot get rid of or transcend that which is you! All you can do is to suppress deny, reject and disown something. All you can do is to split off from yourself and go to war with yourself. To understand what I mean by this, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease. And the reality is, the human is at war with that which makes him human. And to tell you the truth, the spiritual field is perhaps the guiltiest of this. The entire practice of many religious and spiritual and self-help paths is to deny, push away and control that within you which is ‘human’. The practice is a war between the self-concept and the temporal self. It is the ego, disguised as a higher self that is doing right and good by controlling and refusing to own what is ‘human’ as part of itself because it sees what is human as inferior, bad, wrong, primitive, animal, limited, a liability, and as a source of suffering. People have an idea now that to live a successful, good and right life, they must live in the rejection and controlling of their human impulses, human instinct, human desires, human biology, human physiology, human needs, human limitations, human thoughts, human emotions. It is a perpetual life of self-denial and self-rejection. To the degree that some go so far as to say, your human self is an illusion. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Sad Truth About Most Gurus.
Think about what it is to be human. Make a whole list. Here are just a few examples: A primate, omnivorous, terrestrial, diurnal, walks on two legs, sexually dimorphic, needs to breathe air, no exoskeleton and therefore physically vulnerable. Females experience menopause, needs water and food, possesses a cardiovascular, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, reproductive, respiratory, urinary and nervous system. Spoken and written forms of communication, possesses genitalia, social species, relationally dependent, competitive, creative, cooking, clothing, uses tools, desire driven, desire to understand, internal fertilization, pregnancy and live birth. Possess lust, envy and jealousy. Hierarchical, driven to control and gain power, artistic, violence impulse, emotions, possesses motive, 23 pairs of chromosomes, fight or flight response, manipulative, average life expectancy of 70 years, possesses ego. Etc.
It is true that mankind has deviated so far from its nature, that most people will not be able to make a truly accurate list. But for the sake of this exercise, look at the list. What is your relationship to those things? The harder it is to make this list, the more that tells you about the degree to which you have disowned your human-ness. How much are you in resistance to those things? In what ways do you try to control those things? Consider making a separate list of your own unique human aspect. This list will be different for all people because we all have different human experiences, we are men and women, we come from different race and cultures and love and dislike different things in our physical life etc. We have things in common with all other people and also things that are unique to our own human aspect. Then consider how you might be able to better ‘own’ that human part of yourself. To understand this, watch my video titled: Own People! (How To Take Ownership Of Your Relationships). And apply everything I say in that video to yourself.
You cannot be in a state of wholeness or wellness or integration while rejecting a part of yourself and trying to control it. Because you are two points of perspective, you must think of your non temporal self and your temporal self (your soul and your human) to be in a marriage. You must powerfully own that which is human about you so as to consciously meet its needs. And allow it to consciously express. This is the only way to truly fulfill your human potential, which is why you came into this life. To understand this in depth, watch my video titled: The Secret To Overcoming Your Problems. And think about what I say in that video relative to your human-ness. The point of you coming to this life was to bring nonphysical into physical, not to try to transcend the physical so as to get out of it, as if it were some kind of jail like illusion. When you take a part of yourself (in this case your human-ness) as a part of yourself, so as to allow it to express itself and to meet its needs, it will do so in a way that is beneficial instead of detrimental to yourself and to others. Like all things, it only does detrimental things when it perceives itself to be separate from you, which it does if you reject it! So, don’t reject your human-ness. Integrate it instead.
Most of you that are reading this article have had the experience of someone in your life suddenly ending their connection with you by cutting off all communication and contact without any warning or explanation. A person who does this tends to also ignore all of your attempts to reach out, communicate or get an explanation for the behavior. The commonly used term for this behavior is ‘ghosting’. Essentially, they pull a disappearing act, like a ghost. Ghosting isn’t a new thing; however, it is getting progressively more common in large part because of social media. The more that connection is taking place online or via text and the less mutual social connections two people share, the easier it is and the less consequences there are for pulling a disappearing act. Because of this, it is practically an epidemic in the modern dating world. And unfortunately, the more it happens (either to us or our friends and family) the more normalized it becomes within society.
There are two main reasons why someone might ghost you:
Fear of engaging with you, especially in the case that any engagement with you would lead to pain or conflict.
The use of it as a passive aggressive power move.
If the former is the case, it is an avoidance strategy. It is an avoidance of whatever scenario they imagine would come about as a result of engaging with you. For example, someone might feel that you will never see their point of view and will only turn things back on them, causing them to perceive you as ‘unworkable’. Perceiving there to be no way to create resolve with you, they simply avoid communicating with you and cut off all communication instead. Or for example, imagine that a guy you are talking to on a dating site or are actually dating realizes he isn’t really into you, he’s into someone else instead. But he doesn’t want to feel like the bad guy and hurt your feelings or get into any conflict with you. He wants a “no drama, no questions asked, no need to justify himself or deal with your emotions” ending. So, he simply avoids it all by suddenly ceasing to respond all together. It’s a convenient way to bypass a breakup. Seeing as how the root of ghosting is so often fear of conflict, it might be a good idea to watch my video titled: How to Overcome the Fear of Conflict. It is important to note that if someone is in a genuinely abusive relationship, ghosting may in fact be the only way to exit a relationship safely. So, it is important to distinguish between ghosting as a pure avoidance strategy and ghosting as a way to genuinely stay safe from someone.
If someone is ghosting as a passive aggressive power move, it is a control tactic. Usually a punishment. You are probably already familiar with the passive aggressive techniques of the silent treatment and stonewalling. Stonewalling is when one person disengages from the other and maybe even walks away so as to becomes unavailable and unreachable, as if erecting a stone wall between themselves and the other person. They become completely uncooperative. When ghosting is used this way, it is a form of emotional cruelty. And it is one of the most destructive relationship habits we can do. A relationship takes two. This unfortunately means that the power in the relationship belongs to the person who chooses to disconnect and withdraw. This is one reason why the person who simply walks out of the room during a conflict is the one with all the power in the relationship. We know this at our core. We also know how painful emotional withdrawal is and therefore how vulnerable it makes someone. Which is why when we feel the need to gain power over the other person in a relationship, ghosting is a strategy we may use. If we feel justified in doing so because we perceive ourselves to be victimized by the other person, we tend to not care how emotionally abusive this tactic is. No matter what the intent is behind ghosting, ghosting creates emotional and psychological wounds.
Why is ghosting so painful? Emotional withdrawal is a form of abandonment and it is emotionally abusive. The single most important need for a physical human is connection. Even more so than food or water or sleep, which is why someone in a bad breakup often can’t eat or sleep. To ghost is to break that connection and thus, it is a direct threat to a person’s primary need. On top of this, people must assign meaning to experiences. We need to understand why something has happened to really understand what to do about it. If no explanation is given, people become consumed with a dizzying mess of potential explanations and tend to vacillate between confusion and choosing whatever painful meaning is most believable to them. Lack of closure drives people crazy. Did I say or do something wrong? Did they lose their phone? Am I not pretty enough, so I just got rejected? Why didn’t I know this was going to happen, am I a social idiot? Did they get into a car wreck and die? Do they not care? It is the meaning we assign to the experience of ghosting that has the potential to do the most damage to us long term. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.
When someone ghosts us, we go from feeling like someone cared about us to feeling like they don’t care about us at all. This causes immediate humiliation. It calls into question how ‘real’ the relationship was. It causes us to negatively question and doubt ourselves. We feel disrespected and disposable and therefore, it registers in our being as a rejection and as betrayal. And guess what? Social rejection registers in the body the same as physical pain. Only it is worse, because with physical pain you are not telling yourself self-esteem shattering stories on top of it. When we get rejected, we go to work trying to figure out what is bad or wrong about us or whatever we might have said or did. Deep down, we tend to take the blame for someone ghosting us.
Ghosting also makes you feel totally out of control and dysregulated because if you don’t know what happened, you don’t know how to react or respond. For example, if the truth is that someone ghosted you because someone else triangulated them against you, the reaction and response might be to be really upset and confront both them and the person triangulating. If the truth is that someone in their family died and they suddenly sank into a negative spiral so deep that they couldn’t talk to anyone, the reaction and response might be to be hurt, but to feel empathy for them, not put pressure on them and remind them you’re here for them when and if they need you. Because of the ambiguity, we have no clear social cues to guide our behavior and this makes us feel powerless and out of control and frozen in confusion about how to react. And this is what makes ghosting so hard to resolve. Without any information or explanation or reason given, it becomes very, very hard to emotionally process what happened and the trauma of the emotional abandonment so as to feel resolved and create closure.
So, what should you do if you are ghosted?
Give it one last shot to find the truth, gain info or closure. Roll out the red carpet for people to tell you the truth. Obviously, you should only do this if you are actually dedicated to self-awareness and awareness in general. When someone ghosts you, the highest likelihood is that they are conflict avoidant. Therefore, it can be helpful to roll out the red carpet to make it super safe and super easy for them to tell the truth. You still wont be able to guarantee that they will tell you the truth or even respond. But many people have luck creating closure by directly asking for the truth and promising that there will be no consequences (or strong emotional displays or defensiveness) for the answer. This being said, you can’t promise no consequences and then give consequences. For example, imagine that a person simply stops responding to your chats on a dating site. You could try to send a message like this: “Hey, I feel like all of a sudden you just stopped talking or responding to me. It really means a lot to me to be able to find a person to be with one day and so I could use all the honesty and all the help I can get. I promise I wont get upset or defensive, I just need some honest reflection rather than to keep guessing. Would you be willing to tell me the truth about why you stopped communicating with me?” You’d be surprised how many people will answer honestly if you set up a scenario that they perceive to be safe enough to be honest. While their answer does not justify ghosting (and it is perfectly sane to feel furious at even the idea of having to do this) the feedback you might get has the potential to not only help you to find resolve in the situation at hand, but also to get closer and closer to the truth of yourself and what you are really wanting. And if they don’t respond, don’t reach out to contact them no matter what. Don’t call, don’t text, don’t email them again. Don’t put yourself out there again. Keep your self respect. The rule is: If they want to create repair with you, they have to initiate it and demonstrate to you that this behavior has changed.
Regardless of what the actual reasons are for why a person ghosts you, differentiate between any of their reasons or excuses (which may or may not have to do with you) and their decision to ghost because of it. Many psychologists and self-help experts will tell you that ghosting has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person ghosting. This can’t actually be the case in a universe based on the law of mirroring. But to generalize, people who ghost do not know how to handle discomfort. The second that even the potential of discomfort arises, they go into avoidance mode. Many people who ghost are intimacy phobic, fear commitment, have huge issues with conflict or are passive aggressively trying to get power. The actual reality of ghosting is that you would gain a lot of self-awareness and awareness in general if the person ghosting you could tell you why they are ghosting you. But any reason for ghosting that the ghoster could possibly attribute to you, or even to themselves, is separate from the issue of ghosting in and of itself. To give you an aggressive example of what I mean, people have reasons to kill people too… But the killing of people as a response in and of itself is still a huge issue whose ownness belongs to the person doing the killing. Ghosting is the same. Ghosting is a dysfunctional relationship pattern. And that’s on them!
The biggest problem with ghosting is… you may never know the actual reason why someone has ghosted you. For this reason, you have to ask yourself, what would I do differently as of today and what would create the most resolve for me if it was a 100% guarantee that I will never know why? The answer to this question is how to take your power back in a situation like this where you are powerless to making someone engage with you.
Know that what someone is saying when they ghost you is this: I don’t have what it takes to have a mature healthy relationship with you. And for those of you who love to turn into rescuers (and therefore feel tempted to ‘heal them’ into a mature, healthy relationship and make excuses for people who ghost), yes all people have the potential to have what it takes, but just because they have the potential, doesn’t mean they will choose to actualize that potential. Free will trumps potential. It is also smart to remember that people who are capable of having and/or want to have a mature, healthy relationship with you, who are committed to you and to the connection with you will find ways to show up in the relationship. You can’t be responsible for 100% of the relationship. You can’t pull someone hard enough to compensate for the ½ of the relationship which they are not taking responsibility for. How they act towards you is an indication of their style of relationship. Therefore, ask yourself: Is this what I want to tell the universe that I say YES to?
Don’t chase ghosts… unless you want your relationships to be marked by the constant fear that something is wrong with you, intermittent reinforcement, avoidance, emotional abandonment and emotional starvation. Also, be aware that some people who ghost, are partial ghosts. And contrary to what you might think, this is even worse than a person who completely ghosts you, because it sets up one of the most abusive relationship dynamics of all time: Intermittent reinforcement. For more information about this, watch my video titled: Why You Can’t Leave the Relationship (Intermittent Reinforcement). Even though being ghosted is painful, consider that you might have dodged a bullet. If someone ghosts you, what they are saying is: I’m not good for you to be in a relationship with anyway. A person who could not be honest with you and take care of the connection, so they simply cut all communication, is not a person who you can build a safe relationship with.
Put conscious energy into dealing with the emotional wound that being ghosted has caused as well as into ways to get the opposite experience. To heal is to experience the opposite. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Is Healing?. When you get ghosted, you might run into feelings of rejection and betrayal and abandonment. You might doubt yourself and even your worth. You might hear your mind telling you things like “there’s no way someone would just stop communicating with me if I was a good catch or if I didn’t say or do anything wrong”. People who get ghosted tend to either turn being ghosting against themselves and internalize it or begin to form universal beliefs about all people or all men or all women or all people on dating sites. Be aware that the emotional wounds caused by being ghosted make you vulnerable to telling a story that is simply not correct. And remember, being ghosted is not about your value. If you don’t believe me, watch my video titled: How to Handle Rejection.
Ghosting is a dysfunctional relationship behavior at best, severely emotionally abusive at worst. The fact that it is becoming normalized within society today is a tragedy. But believe it or not, many people who have been ghosted, go on to ghost others! If we want a healthy society and healthy relationships, we need to respect each other enough to refuse to perpetuate this pattern.
There is a reason why in cultures which practiced ritual sacrifice, no one was mortified at the sight of a person being killed in a ritual ceremony. There is a reason that no one thought anything was out of order when in the 11th century, no one used forks because they were seen as blasphemous. There is a reason why people found it normal in ancient Rome to wear an erect and often winged penis around their neck to represent Fascinus (one of their gods) in the same way that Christians of today wear a cross. There is a reason that in middle ages and even longer (really before germ theory came along) people supported the practice that surgeons not clean and sterilize their surgical equipment, in fact a surgeon could be fined or go to jail for doing so. There is a reason that no one found it odd or upsetting that by the 1600s in Europe well over half of all women sent their babies away from home at birth to live with and be nursed by another woman. Even higher-class wet nurses sent their own babies away to be nursed by poorer wet nurses. Up to 80 percent of them died in their infancy, most en-route to their wet nurses who often lived far away. There is a reason that no one thought anything of a pregnant woman smoking and drinking alcohol in the 1950s. The reason for all this is that it was “normal”. Human beings tend to acclimatize to, and then accept, whatever situation we find ourselves in. This is even more true when we are children. Whatever we experience as common in our environment, becomes our idea of normal.
What is normal? Normal is whatever conforms to a standard, is usual, typical or expected. The thing is, normal is not a measure of health. This is why the famous quote by Krishnamurti “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” is so important. Normal can become a blinder through which we see the world. It can be a way of staying in denial, remaining unconscious and never being able to heal or progress.
A critical part of becoming aware and progressing is to be able to clearly see cause and effect. This is part of what helps us to decide to make a necessary change. Many of the things that had a profound negative or even positive effect on you, you may not even recognize because you saw them as “normal”. If you see something as normal, it will not stand out to you as anything of interest or anything notable. You may completely overlook it.
But this tendency can go much further than the human tendency to not realize that something is out of alignment when it is ‘the norm’. It can in fact serve as a negative coping mechanism. When we normalize something, we can avoid the pain that might be involved with seeing something as not right and not good. For example, imagine that in our childhood it was common and typical for both parents to be away from home all day working. Because it was normal, we don’t see the emotional neglect we suffered. By normalizing it, we don’t see that emotional neglect had a profound effect on our psyche. For example, we don’t see how it has led to the pattern of selecting unavailable partners as an adult and ending up so depressed and lonely that we are on psychiatric meds. Because it was ‘normal’, we don’t see how unhealthy our societal structure is, so we do nothing to change it. We don’t have to see that our parents hurt us, so we don’t have to acknowledge any rupture between ourselves and them. We can follow in their footsteps, thus validating what they did with us (which establishes closeness). We can get through Christmas as if we have a perfectly normal, functional family, which means no family conflict. We can stay in denial about the whole thing. But the problem is, the effect is still there. We just can’t attribute it to a cause, much less the correct cause. By the way, if you want to learn more about emotional neglect, because this is a big thing that is being normalized by people today, watch my video titled: Today’s Great Epidemic and How to Cure It.
Normalization is also a social control tactic that a person uses to desensitize another person to something that might cause distress in order to get them to accept it or agree to it. This is how the normalization of deviance can come about. It might be tempting to think that normalization as a control tactic is something only sociopaths or deviants or abusers use with victims. It isn’t. In fact, parents love to use this tactic to justify their behavior. How many of you have confronted your parents about certain things that occurred only to hear them retort, “every parent did that. In fact, you got it so much better than most kids”.
In this same vein, something that goes hand in hand with normalization is minimization. To minimize something is to downplay the significance of it. When you use minimization against yourself, it is a form of self-deception. You do it to avoid acknowledging and dealing with negative emotions and painful beliefs associated with them by reducing the severity and negative impact and importance of the events that gave rise to those emotions and beliefs. You also do it to avoid interpersonal conflict. It allows us to rationalize and justify and negate. When it comes to normalization, our favorite way to minimize is through comparisons. Things like “I went through the usual stuff… unlike those other kids who came from alcoholic homes or those kids in other countries working in sweat shops”.
When someone does it to you, it can be a form of invalidation and even potentially manipulation, abuse and gaslighting. If you want to learn more about gaslighting, you can watch my video titled: Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How to Heal from It).
Normalization makes the process of becoming aware of, acknowledging and changing a pattern impossible. When it comes to personal growth, it is a favorite tool of resistance. I would be rich beyond measure if I got money every time I was trying to make a person aware of the true negative impact and importance of some occurrence in their life and they said “yeah… but I mean, that was common, it’s not like I knew anyone else who didn’t experience that”. Many go on to minimize by saying things like “well I mean it’s not like I was getting raped or was starving to death like some other kids.” Any time a person normalizes like this, just imagine the very thing that needs to be resolved, popping up in front of a person and them saying “nah… that’s not it”, and stuffing it below the floor boards.
There is an expectation that if something is normal, if ‘everyone is doing it’ or if ‘that’s just the way things are done’ then it must be right or good. This tendency to equate what is normal with what is good or right can be very, very dangerous. There is also an expectation that if something is normal, it will not have a negative effect on someone. Just because something is normal does not make it right or good. And just because something was or is the norm, does not mean the negative impact of it somehow doesn’t exist. The law of cause and effect is in order, regardless of whether or not something is common.
Guess what? The things you experienced absolutely effected the trajectory of your life regardless of whether they were common practice or normal or not. You must recognize cause and effect. Things you would at face value write off as insignificant can be the very traumas that are ruining your life today. Instead of normalizing it, you need to see the actual impact of things like being weaned, new siblings being born, the punishment and reward style of parenting, being one of thirty kids in a classroom, being expected to do what pleases your family no matter what you truly want, not having certain emotional needs met, growing up with a single parent, being teased, eating processed foods etc… You will never be able to heal what you cannot acknowledge and let yourself feel and consciously change. You will never be truly aware if you simply accept something or write something off because it is ‘normal’.
It might just be beneficial to ask yourself and really put some though into: What if this thing I think is normal, really isn’t? And what would be so bad or what would it mean if this thing I consider normal is really not right, not good and not ok? And never ever forget that one day, those things that you don’t bat an eye at today, might just be the things that cause people in the future to look back at you in horror.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard the term “cancel culture’ being mentioned a lot lately. But what does this really mean? The time has come to dive deep into the concept of cancel culture so as to completely understand it.
When something is canceled, it is ended, nullified and eradicated. You can think of it in terms of a tv show. When a TV show is no longer wanted by the public and has no more support, it is cancelled. To cancel a person, similar to a TV show, is to decide that they are not wanted and as a result, to withdraw support from them and turn against them so as to end, nullify or eradicate them in the public. In the era of social media, this often takes the form of publicly calling out whatever you disapprove of about them, boycotting their work, organizing group efforts to take away their power and remove their public platform. And this is usually done in a performative way so as to gain attention and significance by going against them.
I’m going to ask you a question: When someone says or does something that you don’t like, what do you do? Do you simply stop focusing on them and go focus on something else? Do you actively engage in a constructive debate about whatever it is that they said or did so as to try to find a meeting of minds? Do you turn against them as a person so as to try to get rid of them?
Cancel culture is a shared social attitude and custom of trying to get rid of the source of something you dislike (the person saying or doing something) rather than trying to resolve or enter into conflict with the words or actions themselves. A good example of this is: Let’s imagine that a famous actress said she does not believe in vaccines. Instead of entering into a constructive debate about vaccines, people simply decide because of her opinion that they dislike, to organize to make it so that she, herself is eradicated from the public eye. They attack her character. They go to the media outlets to call her our publicly. They report her social media platforms so they are deleted. They create such a bad reputation and stir up so much controversy that no one can hire her without bringing the same antagonism upon themselves. So soon, she is blacklisted and unable to work and has been successfully eradicated from the public eye.
One of the main things fueling cancel culture is our attachment to a sense of goodness. People can commit all manner of sins when they are convinced that they are doing it for the “greater good”. The reason that the pattern of cancel culture does not stop is because we fall into the trap of seeing the person doing the cancelling as a ‘good guy’. In fact, this is how a person who is engaged in cancelling sees themselves. They fall into virtue signaling and performative wokeness. How this begins is that the minute that someone says or does something that they dislike, they immediately fall into the social triangle. The social triangle is essentially a triangle of the roles: hero, victim and villain. They see the person who is saying or doing something they dislike as the villain and this means, they are free to choose from the two “good guy” roles of the victim or the hero. They often see themselves as the victim first. But soon, gain power by transitioning into the role of the hero by ‘going against evil or wrongness or badness’. They can do whatever it takes to destroy that person because they are doing it in the name of the greater good and imagine themselves to be ‘saving others’ by doing so. It isn’t much different than a Christian soldier. He has grown up with the understanding ‘thou shalt not kill’. But the minute he decides that something is a threat to his country, suddenly killing is not only ok, it makes him a hero. The triangle is one of the most dangerous social dynamics in existence.
As long as people who engage in cancelling see themselves as the hero and as long as we continue to play into that idea as a society, we will remain an unconscious species. Cancel culture opens the door wide for people to publicly express opinions or sentiments that are intended to do one thing: To demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue. And when a person does this, as well as demonstrates political correctness, they can see themselves and be seen as awake and aware and therefore smarter than others. It is a performance of goodness, rightness and virtue. This means, it is in fact a narcissistic strategy as well as a disguised way of fueling the ego… Not activism. The people engaged in cancel culture see themselves as the moral ones, but are in fact the very ones making a meeting of minds or actual healing impossible. Instead they are waging war and destroying lives. For this reason, they cannot call themselves conscious or moral. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Self Concept, The Enemy of Awakening.
The issue of cancel culture has been there for quite a while. But the reason it is cropping up with such intensity right now is multi fold.
First, this is the era of the millennial. Millennials are dictating societal trends more than ever. And the millennial mindset gives rise to cancel culture. To generalize, the millennial generation is a wounded generation. It is a generation of really, really angry people. And they have reason. They have been duped and set up for failure by those who had more power than they did. They feel that everything and everyone is against their best interests, which makes them prone to seeing others as enemies. And they feel really, really powerless. This naturally primes them to go after the source of whatever they dislike as well as to go after power in backdoor and unconscious ways. It also primes them to naturally hate hierarchy and want to take power away from others. The minute they feel displeased or hurt, they feel powerless to whatever displeased or hurt them and so, they want to restore their sense of power and social media has given them the power to do just that. Of course millennials tend to simply remain unaware of all of this and instead justify cancel culture by saying that it is “to hold people accountable for what they say and do”. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: What’s Wrong with Millennials? And How to Heal the Millennial Wound.
Second, we are living in the era of social media. Social media has changed the world we live in. It has given people a control over canceling what they like and dislike that they never had before. It takes nothing to ‘cancel’ someone. Today, if someone doesn’t like something that someone said or did, they simply rally a group of people against that person from the comfort of their own homes and get them to do things like spread slander or collectively report the person so as to eradicate their support and to have their platforms removed. It is to consciously poison people against someone, so they turn on that person. You can think of it as mass triangulation. To understand more about triangulation, watch my video titled: Are You Being Triangulated?
Social media has now become the new battlefield and you don’t need bravery or expertise or an army or anything else to wage war. You just need a computer. In fact, you will probably only gain by waging war because you can get rid of whoever said or did something you didn’t like as well as see yourself and get others to see you as the public hero. You can also gain significance by being the one to go against something that is significant.
Third, humanity is in an incredibly unsafe time. A great many people feel powerless. We are polarizing intensely and prone to seeing those with alternative viewpoints as enemies. With the issue of a pandemic and also the issue of racial injustice on the table, personal sensitivities and triggers are at an all-time high and the collective is demanding political correctness. Because of this, many people who are in the public eye have recently been “cancelled” in what feels like a public witch hunt. The problem is, the deeper and deeper our culture commits to political correctness, the worse this pattern will become. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Political Correctness.
Cancel culture isn’t something that just effects celebrities, influencers and other people in the public eye. It effects everyone. You don’t have to be famous to be boycotted. And one could say that a goal of cancel culture isn’t limited to punishing someone, it is also a strategy to shame and scare just enough people about potentially suffering the same consequences to make them conform. Let’s say that you share an unpopular opinion or if someone is able to find something from your past that people would consider bad or wrong. They can un-friend you, spread it all over the place on social media, use it as a way to discredit, reject and triangulate against you entirely. That picture of you partying in your college years can even cost you your job.
Because the justification that is used for cancel culture is forcing accountability (especially by those who hate the term itself), we can’t talk about cancel culture without talking about accountability. Canceling someone for a thing they say or do is often seen as social justice. Straight out of the gate, it is critical to see that cancel culture is not really about justice. It is about control. Control is really the forced prevention of what is unwanted and the forced bringing about of what is wanted. People use cancellation to force conformity to ideals. This can be clearly seen currently in the atmosphere of the #metoo movement. If enough people are cancelled for saying or doing things that are perceived anti-feminist, then soon everyone will be forced through fear of consequence to conform and not say or do anything that goes against feminist ideals. Herein lies the first major issue with cancel culture. If people simply conform for fear of consequences, nothing has happened to make an actual change. For example, if people are cancelled on account of perceived sexism, nothing happened to resolve their sexism or the sexism of those around them. Sexism was simply driven beneath the floor boards by public shaming and threat of punishment. It was hidden to fester. It actually makes sexism worse instead of better, just less visible and more covert.
From a universal perspective, cancel culture is an attempt to usurp universal laws. One of the laws in a mirror-based construct (which we live in) is cause and effect. This is what many people call karma. You get a reflection of yourself. This is an organic process. It is a natural, built in form of justice if you will. And it was a construct designed specifically to create learning and therefore awareness. But people want to control this process. They want to take control over the reflection. They do it with punishment and reward. Humanity uses the basic human needs and the deprivation of them as a way to control another person. You have to get this: Punishment and reward is training a person. Punishment and reward is a control technique. And one of the biggest problems with it, other than it doesn’t work, is that it prevents learning. People learn from a natural consequence. For example, if I lean too far over on my bike, a natural consequence is falling. The punishment that human beings impose, is an unnatural consequence. For example, if a child stays out past curfew, we may take his television privileges away. But being unable to watch TV has nothing to do with staying out late at night. So the child learned nothing about the dangers of being out at night or the many consequences that could be a natural result of doing so… things like being too exhausted to pay attention in school the next day or running into situations or people that are dangerous. All this child has learned is that his parents are dictators and that he either has to conform or hide his absence from the house better. If a consequence is not causally related to an action, people learn nothing.
People who participate in cancel culture practices perceive themselves to be powerless and find this control tactic to be a way to take their power back. For example, a woman who feels totally powerless to men and who has weak boundaries or fear of asserting them may feel like her boundaries are not being honored by a man. So, in order to get her power back, she will call him out publicly, triangulate lots of other people against him, call for him to be boycotted and fired from his position. The amount of public pressure that she is able to amount may just result in him being fired. She will tell herself that she is saving other women by doing this and that he is getting what he deserves and is being held accountable for his actions.
As you can see from this example, another big problem relative to the accountability argument is the subjective perception of fairness. For example, the natural consequence of touching a woman in a way that is unwanted would be something like he, himself being touched in a way that is unwanted or he, himself being physically afraid of someone else or being rejected by her and thus, not being able to be physically near that woman. People have a skewed sense of fairness because of the magnitude of their personal triggers. They take their skewed ideas of fairness and justice and create an unnatural, causally unrelated consequence for others. In our example, a man losing his entire reputation, career and potentially life is not actually a causal, natural or one could argue even a fair consequence. Society also doesn’t progress because there is no learning. The man just learns that women are bitches. The woman does not learn how to assert boundaries. The company that fires him learns to bend to public pressure. Society simply creates another rule and consequences for breaking it. And society becomes less and less free and thus less and less conducive to human wellbeing.
I must put some questions before you. What is fair? What is Justice? And how can you know you are right? Who decides what the right consequence is? Are you aware that still to this day in some areas of the globe, people think that the right punishment is public stoning? Years ago, the right punishment was beheading or hanging. What might we think of our concept of punishment today when we are looking back from the future? Are you aware that punishment and reward has nothing to do with cause and effect, it has to do with the limited human perception of right and wrong and strategies to control other people into conforming to ‘rightness’?
We are being called to decide collectively: what does humanity actually want? And why? And how do we best achieve that? No one engaging in cancel culture behavior is actually thinking about this. And in fact cancel culture would not exist if we made our minds up about what we actually want for society and why and how to consciously achieve it. For example, we don’t want a racist society. Let’s say that someone makes a racist remark. Cancel culture is wanting to make it illegal and such a punishable offense that no one ever does it again. But this does nothing to heal racism. It simply drives it beneath the floor boards, where it festers.
I’m not going to tell you today what the definition of justice should be. I’m going to let you really question that yourself. But I am going to tell you that if what we want is a society that is conducive to human health and wellbeing, we are going to have to care infinitely more about healing than we care about control. We are going to have to let go of this juvenile eye for an eye mentality. Besides, at the deepest level what we are really trying to do when we want someone to suffer for making us suffer, is to force empathy and therefore force someone who is out of alignment with us to align with us instead.
To heal is to experience the opposite. This means that people who hold a painful perspective would need actual healing experiences that actually alter the perspective that they currently hold. For example, someone who steals because they feel they have no access to resources would have to experience resources and abundance, not sit in a jail cell. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: What Is Healing?
From objective perspective, humanity is an out of alignment species because they cause the very thing they punish. For example, the judicial system creates the very rules that ultimately force people into illegal activity. Then that same judicial system punishes them for that illegal activity. Police officers are part of the karma of drug abuse. Parents and schools are part of the karma of their children becoming delinquent.
Humanity is getting more and more out of alignment with its own best interests right now with cancel culture. It is forcing polarization, war, dishonesty, lack of authenticity, suppression, denial, fragmentation, punishment, control, conformity, lack of freedom, ignorance, and unconsciousness, all under the guise of ‘doing what’s right’.
Are you ready for the silver lining? Cancel culture has the potential to raise awareness of the entire topic of justice into human awareness for re-evaluation. This starts with a question that I want you to ask yourself: What is your definition of justice? No one agrees on this. And instead of thinking about it, most people simply swallow an idea of justice fed to them by the society they live in. What does humanity want out of justice? What do you want out of justice? What do you want done with the person who has hurt you or someone else and WHY?
When you walk up to someone and introduce yourself, you introduce yourself by one name. What this means is that you see yourself as a single unit of consciousness. You see yourself as an “I” or a “me”. The problem is, this perception of yourself does not accommodate for the full truth of you. In fact, it can obscure the truth of you. If you see yourself in this way, you can only see the forest and not the trees. In fact, the single biggest step you can take towards self-awareness and awakening is: To begin to see yourself as an ecosystem that is being called by one name.
You call yourself by one name, but you are in essence an accumulation of a very complex system of ‘smaller’ units of consciousness… Just like an ecosystem is. To understand what I mean, look at the ecosystem of the Amazon Rainforest. We call the Amazon Rainforest by one name, but it is an accumulation of its emergent layer, canopy layer, understory layer, forest floor layer; which themselves are composed of an accumulation of evergreen trees, flowering plants, birds, insects, reptiles, fungi, amphibians, rainfall and soil etc.
From objective perspective, each physical human is his or her own universe. We could zoom in on a physical human and see that each thing that is included as a part of this human is in fact its own unit of consciousness. And as a physical human, you have so many things that added together, equal you. For example, you are an accumulation of your spiritual, mental, emotional and physical layers. Just looking at your physical body, each cell of your body has its own consciousness. Each organ also has its own unique consciousness and identity. Your body contains more bacterial cells than human cells (about ten times more in fact) many of which you could not survive without. They are integral to the system that makes up… you. They are considered to be an integral part of you. Your psyche is also not singular. It is made up of many different ‘parts’. We have the tendency of calling these parts ‘sides’ or ‘facets’ of a person’s personality. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Fragmentation, The Worldwide Disease.
Any ecosystem is a community of interacting organisms. Any system is a community of interacting units of consciousness. It is a complex, interconnected network. The “system” that you are comprised of, like any system is unique. There may be common trends that it shares with other systems to be found in the greater universe, but it has its own configuration and each different element of it has a specific relationship to all other parts of the system. For example, your kidneys have a unique relationship to your bladder. Your mental layer of consciousness has a unique relationship to your gut biome. And these relationships, like any relationship can be or become one that is symbiotic and loving, dysfunctional and oppositional or anything in between.
We have to be able to zoom in and zoom out, in order to be fully conscious. When we treat the assemblage that comprises us as if it is a single unit of consciousness, what we are doing is zooming out. When you zoom out, you can see that the collective consciousness of any group of beings could be perceived as a single consciousness. For example, there are millions of people on this planet and we could zoom out to see that if you add all of their consciousnesses together, we could call this single unit ‘the consciousness of humanity’.
In all honestly, you could zoom in and out indefinitely in this universe. For example, even if you zoom in to become aware of the consciousness of a single cell, that single cell is also in fact its own ecosystem of even smaller units of consciousness. And if you were to go into one part of a single cell, that part too would be its own ecosystem of sorts. One reason we must be able to zoom out, is to be able to identify trends, commonalities and patterns for example. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Surprising Truth, Generalization, Stereotyping and Uniqueness.
All this being said, to be conscious we must be able to do the opposite as well, to zoom in. And this is what people have the hardest time doing, because they feel like in doing so, they lose a solid sense of a singular self. The question soon becomes, if I am all of these things, then what am I? The answer of course is that you are all of them and therefore, not any single one of them. The zooming in process of conscious awareness, requires you to dis-identify. If you would like to understand disidentification, you can watch my video titled: Disidentification (The Process of Non-Attachment).
When all you can see is the forest, and not any single tree within that forest, you fail to be truly conscious of what is happening in that forest. Sticking with this analogy, it is ignorant to refuse to recognize that the tree has its own unique ‘self’; its own personal truths including likes and dislikes, desires and perspective as well as relationships to other trees and insects, soil and weather in the forest. If you cannot recognize the unique consciousness that belongs to the tree, you will not be able to see, feel, hear or understand any of the problems that are happening in the system of the forest.
So often, when a person can’t figure out what is happening with them, it is because they are not zooming in. They are looking at the forest and not at any single tree and the relationship that tree has to other trees and insects and soil etc. You have to be able to get deep into the perspective of any one unit of consciousness that comprises you, in order to fully understand it and its relationship to other things within the system it belongs to. And when you begin to do this, the symptoms you are seeing in that greater forest that is you, suddenly begin to make sense. The second that the medical establishment understands this, the entire human approach to both illness and medicine will change. If this concept interests you further, and you would like to dive a tiny bit deeper into a technique that can help you zoom in relative to yourself, feel free to watch my video titled: Parts Work, what is Parts Work and How to Do It.
I want you to ask yourself this question today and give yourself some time to answer it: If It were true that my name is just the title given to an accumulation of an entire system of things that I am comprised of ( in other words: If I were to see myself as an ecosystem instead of as a single being), what would change for me? How might I begin to live differently? And how would I approach problems that arose in my life differently?
Seeing the reality of the amalgamation of different units of consciousness that culminates in you will change everything with regards to your approach to life. It will make life feel so much more rich, deep and alive. You will finally recognize the complexity of existence, and yet, the divine simplicity within that complexity. You will find so many of the answers that you seek.
We all know a person, maybe you are this person, who chronically opposes, denies and doubts, who has lost faith in human goodness and who is skeptical and pessimistic to the degree that it almost seems they possess either no belief in (or a contempt for) pleasure, hope, faith and positivity. Society calls this person a cynic. But what society has failed to recognize is that cynicism is not a character trait. Cynicism is a coping mechanism.
To cope is to make a specific alteration mentally, emotionally or physically so that you can manage or adapt to something that is causing you stress. A coping mechanism is a specific procedure, process or technique, which manages or creates adaptation to stress. And therefore, by definition, it is the opposite of changing something so that there is no longer a stressor. To understand this more in depth watch my video titled: How to Let Go of a Coping Mechanism. Cynicism is a coping mechanism that may have saved your life at one time, but can absolutely ruin your life. It is also so painful for other people that it creates a vicious spiral of self-fulfilling prophecy.
To understand this coping mechanism, we must go back to the onset. People do not incarnate as cynics or skeptics. Have you ever met a cynical baby? If you are cynical, at some point in your life, you experienced one or several serious let downs. Catastrophic sudden shocks or disappointments relative to the positive elements of your life. For example, a situation or many that caused a catastrophic blow to your belief in others, hopes, dreams, goals, trust, faith, desires, or expectations. This was so psychologically and emotionally and maybe even physically traumatizing, that you decided a state of positivity is inherently vulnerable and so you had to buffer yourself against positivity at all costs. As a result, you began to use negativity as this buffer. But this buffer is experienced as painful and antagonistic by others, causing them to behave in harsh and defensive ways to you, only further reinforcing your negative beliefs in people, which cause you to behave even more cynical, which cause them to be even more hostile to you, which cause you to behave even more cynical, which cause them to behave even more hostile. And thus, the vicious spiral continues.
It is ultimately your right to remain cynical in your approach to the world. The reality is that you have every reason for it to be justified for you to feel and act the way you do. It is simply that living in a constant state of pessimism and let down is not really living and it is also a coping mechanism, much like positive bypassing, smoking, cutting, gambling or suppression for example. For this reason, if you are interested in letting go of the coping mechanism of cynicism, here are some suggestions:
Be brave enough to see what you are getting out of being cynical. How is it serving you? Cynicism is a defense mechanism. You use it to try to stay safe. When you feel hurt and afraid and disappointed, but you can’t face those emotions directly, you turn against the world and begin to push things away. We use cynicism to make sure we never ever get our hopes up only to be let down again. Essentially, we disappoint ourselves before the world can ever do it for us. But cynicism paints the lens you see the world through dark and it also separates you from genuine awareness. Whenever you have an antagonistic perspective about something that someone else feels positive about or whenever you want to deny or doubt or feel pessimism creeping in, stop caring about whether you are right or wrong. You might be either! But that shouldn’t stop you from asking yourself, how might it keep me safe to think and feel and act this way in this exact situation? For example, imagine someone says “I feel like next year is going to be a good year” and you feel yourself immediately thinking the other person is just an optimistic idiot, but you know you want to work on your tendency of being skeptical, look at how believing the person is an idiot and that next year is gonna suck keeps you safe. What does it prevent you from experiencing or being?
You are going to have to see yourself as a “scapegoater” to get over the behavior. Instead of making the real problem the problem, such as the other person, you made positivity or hope or optimism the problem, thus scapegoated it. And so many skeptics are scapegoats for their families and other people that if you are a skeptic, you should know how “off” that is. Many skeptics do this scapegoating of the positive so as to preserve relationships with the people who let them down. In other words, it isn’t Dad that’s the problem, it’s that I got my hopes up that is the problem. That way, I can control not getting hurt again, not having the solution be in dad’s hands and still hang out and be close to dad without there being a problem between us and still feel a sense of belonging. Getting over cynicism is about getting into reality about what the real problem was and is, relative to things not coming to fruition, hopes or expectations not being fulfilled, disappointments and negative trends. Rather than scapegoating the optimism, expectations, hopes or goals themselves.
You set out to prove everything wrong because if you prove everything else wrong, you are not wrong. Many skeptics feel like in life, other people either made or tend to make everything their fault so if they prove that the fault lies with other things and people in the external, they don’t have to feel that deep down fear that everything is their fault. This is the insecurity you can’t face. But anything besides facing that insecurity is avoidance. This is one of the reasons why arguing with a cynic or skeptic does no good, it reinforces the painful narrative inside them of “I am wrong”.
If you are a skeptic, you are going to have to accept a very vulnerable truth about yourself. All of your ways of thinking and behaving are ways to completely disguise your true missing need: Kindness. What you really want is kindness. But you would never dare reveal this vulnerability or set yourself up to have your hopes dashed again and so you would never admit to it or ask for kindness directly. If you are a skeptic, you tend to isolate and not have many friends. You give off the impression that you don’t want any. But deep down, you don’t want to end up alone. You want relationships that feel good and feel like ease, with people who are kind and considerate and who really value you and do not let you down. The only reason you tend to isolate is because you associate people with pain. The thing is, your cynicism hurts people. So they associate you with pain. You are perpetuating the very cycle that hurt you and made you this way in the first place. If you want society to change, you already know you can’t expect THEM to change first so that you can change.
If you want to have people in your life who are kind and considerate and who value you and don’t let you down, those are the qualities you need to offer others. If all they feel is stupid and wrong and un-valued by you, which is how they currently feel, they can’t really share themselves with you and wont desire to be close to you. As it stands, people have to be willing to be pricked and bitten by you to be close to you. Sit with that and see how you might be willing to make yourself safer to others and sit with how much it sucks to have to be the one to make that first move into kindness. You give off the absolute opposite impression from what you really want and need, which is the opposite of a recipe for actually getting what you want and need.
Many skeptics come from families where there is already a problem with happiness, no matter what the members of the family might have said. For example, it is common for a mother to say “all I want is for you to be happy” but in reality, any time her child was happy, she got exasperated or shamed her child for getting his or her hopes up. If you are a skeptic, the vulnerability of positivity is what you are trying to avoid. For this reason, it is critical to understand your negative association with positivity and happiness and see that positive emotion could in and of itself be a trigger for you. Negating anything positive is how many cynics control their rather wounded and therefore fragile emotional system by maintaining a predictable feeling of ‘negative or monotone’ so as to create predictability. It’s a “no real dramatic up and downs if I keep myself at a predictably low emotional altitude” thing. But this is not the life you came here to live. It is not a recipe for fulfillment. To understand this dynamic fully, watch my video titled: When Happiness is a BAD Thing.
Be brave enough to look at the wound hiding underneath the coping mechanism. To do this, you’re going to have to be especially attuned to the subtle emotional trigger you have when you hear good news or positive expectation or hope being expressed by someone else or being felt by you. You can use that discomfort and the thoughts that come with it like “that’s never going to happen” or “the only reason that person is doing that is for their own self-gratification” or “the world is going to shit anyway” as a doorway into the original experience. This way, you can create resolve relative to the actual wounding experience. To do this, you can use The Completion Process. Doing this process will help you answer the question: When did I experience a trauma in which my faith in people or my positive goals or hopes or expectations or faith was dashed? When did I feel totally blindsided? When did I become disillusioned? What painful disappointment was too much for me to resolve? To learn how to do this process, you can pick up a copy of my book titled: The Completion Process or visit www.completionprocess.com and select a practitioner to lead you through it. You can also watch my video titled: How to Heal the Emotional Body. And because disappointment is so often the deep wound beneath cynicism, it would benefit you to watch my video titled: Disappointment (How to Get Over Disappointment).
Like many good coping mechanisms, they become all wound up in your self concept. In other words, you found a way to wind a coping mechanism that causes you pain into your self-esteem. Thus, your ego now imagines that it is dependent on it. Cynicism must be unhooked from your self-esteem in order for you to let go of it. If you are a Cynic, you maintain the coping mechanism because you tell yourself that being cynical or skeptical makes you more intelligent, wore experienced and worldly… better. Your sense of superiority is derived from seeing what you call the “harsh reality” of others and of the world. You tend to derive self-esteem through how dumb and innocent and naïve and inexperienced you think others are when they are positive. The reality is that when you suffered the original wound of being so disappointed and so let down, you turned against yourself. You didn’t only scapegoat positivity, you also scapegoated yourself for being so stupid and naïve as to not see it coming. You project this same sentiment onto anyone who subconsciously reminds you of yourself at the time that wound occurred… anyone who has their hopes up, is positive, has faith or expresses optimism.
Start the practice of AND consciousness. This is a safer thing to include as part of your self concept than cynicism. Reality is comprised of polarities. ‘And Consciousness’ is a state of mind where you develop the ability to hold space for extremes. This is an important part of the development of both mental and emotional maturity. In the moment that we acknowledge a contradictory truth or state of being and expand wide enough to be able to hold both, as if holding both is ok, we have dis-identified with both extremes. We have ceased to become either or and instead have become the thing that is holding both. Reality includes both positive and negative. Both faith and doubt. The most conscious person is the person who doesn’t try to negate one with the other, or who only recognizes one and not the other, it is the person who is aware of both in every situation. It is not any more aware of a person to only be aware of the negative than it is to only be aware of the positive.
If you are a cynic, to be in reality is to see that you are relationally traumatized. Relational trauma is trauma experienced in relationship with other people. This has led to you becoming a deeply distrustful person and for good reason. Anyone who tells you that you should just start trusting people is seriously out of reality. As you cannot just force yourself to trust someone, it’s actually impossible. But trust in relationships is a key component to happiness. For this reason, you’re going to have to really, deeply understand trust and how to develop it. To understand how to do this, watch two of my videos: The first is: Trust (What is Trust and How to Build Trust in Relationships). The second is: How To Create a Safe Relationship.
As a cynic, you are trying harder to buffer yourself from suffering and pain than you are trying to see truth or to see things as they are. But the best thing about you is that you WANT to be in reality. You may be currently leaving positivity out of the picture of reality, but you are more brave than most when it comes to seeing many of the painful parts of reality that other people want to deny. You have broken out of many patterns of ignorance and falsehood and discovered more of what is real and you have seen the genuine problems in the world. This knowledge can give you power in fact. After all, your only axis of power is to be in reality. What have you become disillusioned with and why? What is that disillusionment showing you that you do want? How could you put your energy into it and take action to create that change you do want? For example, if the issue with the world is that people aren’t kind, and if you had to be the one to show people by example what it looked like to be kind, what would you think, say and do. Now Do That!
As a skeptic, your negative assessments are a defense against suffering. You are deeply afraid of expecting anything that turns out to be less than what you want or expect. You spend your life disappointing yourself and letting yourself down and countering hope and faith before the world can do it for you. It was a brilliant strategy. But all brilliant strategies can wind up being the very thing that harms you, in your case the very thing committing you to a painful life. I am not here today to make a case for positivity. Or to convince you that life is good. Or that people are good. You have plenty of valid proof of the opposite. I am merely here to say that you are living in a coping mechanism that just might be preventing you from the fulfillment of the life that you actually came here to live.
Most people on the planet feel conditionally loved. They feel people will value, appreciate and love them only if they are perceived as good and right and successful and are doing what others want and expect etc. This means that most people have this deep missing need of feeling unconditionally loved no matter what they do or don’t do, are or are not. At face value, this seems reasonable. After all, we all know the pain that conditionality can bring. We know the pain of feeling like we have to act a certain way in order to belong and to avoid conflict and to not be abandoned. The practice of unconditional love is one of the cornerstones of many spiritual philosophies. Just go ahead and look up how many quotes on unconditional love there are. But let’s look at the shadow of this philosophy.
When we say we want unconditional love, what we really mean is that we want an unconditional relationship. We want a relationship with no consequences. We want a relationship where no matter what we do or don’t do, the other person will continue to value us and appreciate us to the degree that they will feel good towards us and never ever get into conflict suffering with us or want to leave us. Sit with this for a minute. To expect unconditional love is to expect there to be no cause and effect. To want unconditional love is to want a relationship where there is no pressure on you, including no expectations. It really isn’t love we are asking for. We are simply using that word to represent the feeling of being valued and appreciated so as to be wanted and pulled in and held on to by someone.
To love is to take something as a part of yourself. To understand this more in depth, watch my video titled: What is Love?. When you do this, you expand so that yourself and the other person are like two parts within you. You don’t abandon the part that is yourself for the sake of the part of you that is the other person. It is simply that now, the best interests of both parts within you (yourself and them) are your concern. You have an intrinsic motive to want to meet both of their needs and resolve both of their pain. But this means that incompatibility now matters to you immensely. You cannot feel good meeting one’s needs at the expense of the other. And therefore, to truly love, you must recognize conditions that exist for both parts within the relationship instead of deny them.
For example, let’s imagine that you are a person who wants a simple, no pressure life that is centered around hobbies and hanging out with the people you love. Now let’s imagine that you develop romantic feelings for a person who is ambitious, someone who wants a big life that is centered around the accumulation of wealth, achievements and travel. If you get into a relationship with this person, this incompatibility will very soon cause you both pain. You will feel conditionally loved when the other person begins to complain about your lack of ambition and about how they carry the financial weight in the household and about the “losers” who you hang out with. You begin to feel that they don’t like who you are and that they will only love you if you become someone else.
They will feel conditionally loved when you are frustrated at how they can’t just be satisfied with what they have. They will feel conditionally loved when no matter how much you see that they are unhappy in the small, predictable life, you do nothing to change it and instead keep playing your same hobbies and spending time with those same people instead of trying to make a better, bigger life for both of you. What you want is for this person to value you and appreciate you to the degree that they will feel good towards you and never ever get into conflict suffering with you or leave you no matter if you never make any more money, never travel and make them carry the burden of any life style improvements alone for example. What they want is for you to value them and appreciate them to the degree that you will feel good towards them and never get into conflict suffering with them or want to leave them no matter if they think your friends and family are all losers, leave you behind for trips they go on around the world, and work so much that it feels like you’re living two separate lives. This is not possible.
You can include someone as a part of you, so as to see what is truly best for them and what they truly want. But if the truth of someone takes you further away from what you want, further away from your truth and causes you to suffer, you will not be able to value and appreciate it to the degree that it feels good and compels you to be on good terms and stay with them in the same relationship configuration. This means that loving someone does not always mean to always approve and always stay with them. To understand more about this, watch my videos titled: Incompatibility (A Harsh Reality in Relationships). And Why Approval is Not Love.
The person who you are the least likely to get the most unconditionality from is a primary partner. The reason is that they have the most “skin in the game”. They are the person whose life is the most directly affected by conditions involving you. In fact, to be unconditional, they would have to be totally disconnected so nothing you are or do affects them. This is why so many people who are in need of relationship rehabilitation do so well with therapists. A therapist relationship is more unconditional than almost any other relationship. No matter what you say in that room, it doesn’t cause them to get upset or de-value you or stop appreciating you or want to stop seeing you every week. But this is because they have no skin in the game. If you go home and shoot up heroine and burn your house down, it doesn’t directly impact their life. A friend is probably going to be more conditional because they are more directly affected by you than a therapist. A primary partner is going to be a relationship you really have to step up to the plate for. It will be a relationship of expectations and pressure. The more compatible you are, the easier this will be and the less it will seem like this.
Love is not the same as a relationship with no pressure and no expectations. I know that a relationship like this seems the most secure and safe to you. It feels like the relationship you can relax in and feel good about yourself in. But it is a myth. It is a myth you are chasing because of your deep wound of “you are wrong and bad and therefore must change”.
I want you to ask yourself, “When I say, I want to be loved just for me, what does “just me” mean? What is just you? What are you? Are you what you do? What you want? How you behave? How you feel? What you think? What you say? Your actions? What your desires are? What your needs are? Just an intangible essence or energy? Are you only one of these things, or all of them? Once you decide, can you see that to not get into any conflict suffering regarding those things or to want to stay tied to you forever, someone would have to be compatible to those things?
I am going to challenge you that what you want is not an unconditional relationship. You aren’t even incapable of giving that to someone. Will you continue to value and appreciate someone to the degree that you will feel good towards them and never ever want to physically leave them if they cheat on you? What if they abuse you? What about if they make a decision that means by staying with them physically, you will never align with your desires? Chances are, if you are a person who says you can unconditionally love, unlike everyone else, what you are really saying is that you are a person who thinks it is ok and even good to give your best interests up for and to suffer for a relationship… to stay with someone no matter how miserable you and/or they are together.
What you want is a relationship with someone whose conditions are compatible to you… Compatible to your wants, needs, values, character makeup etc. For example, if you desire for someone to stay with you even though you have a temper or to stay with you if you end up in an accident that leaves you disabled or if you are poor forever, what you want is someone who can say yes, I’m compatible to that, because those aren’t conditions for conflict suffering or for ending a relationship for them specifically. One person could genuinely not have the condition of physical ability with regards to fulfillment in their relationship, another person could. One person could genuinely not have the condition of ambition, another could. One person could not have the condition of being together physically, another could. One person could not have the condition of wealth, another could.
The reality is that everyone has different conditions. What you want is the person whose conditions, you feel ok with and who is ok with your conditions. That is far closer to actual love than the mythical ‘unconditional love’ that people have unconsciously gone after for so long. Love in and of itself is ultimately unconditional because to take someone as a part of yourself is not a contradiction to incompatibility. Love is ultimately unconditional because at the deepest level, all is one. We are all part of each other, whether we recognize it yet or not. There is no actual way to truly separate from one another, even though in the physical dimension, we can move our bodies to create the perception of distance. There is no way for you to separate from this universe. But all people must become damn conscious of and damn straight with themselves and other people about their relationship conditions. Keep in mind that we will have different and unique conditions for every different relationship configuration that we have; from therapist relationships to coaches to business partnerships to friends to siblings to parents to children to husbands to wives.
Because the quality of unconditionality has become a virtue in this society, people are shamed for their conditionality. They are led to believe some conditions are ok and some are not. For example, you are fine to love conditionally and can thus stay a good person if the condition upon which you leave someone is being beaten up or sexually abused by them. You are not fine and are in fact a terrible person if the condition upon which you leave someone is them being poor. The thing is, just because you shame someone for something, doesn’t mean it changes. People simply deny it even though it is there. They say, “I love you no matter what and till death do us part” and then leave you when their subconscious conditions are not met. The unfortunate thing is, to admit to your own conditions relative to relationships, you are going to have to risk feeling like you are and like people will see you as a bad person… ironically thus re-triggering your original wound of: “you are wrong and bad and therefore must change” as well as your pendulum swing desire of wanting unconditional love.